Bukit Batok by-election

MOM: Chee misunderstood employment data

Dr Chee Soon Juan giving his speech at the Singapore Democratic Party rally at the field along Bukit Batok Industrial Park A on May 3, 2016.
Dr Chee Soon Juan giving his speech at the Singapore Democratic Party rally at the field along Bukit Batok Industrial Park A on May 3, 2016. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Singapore Democratic Party chief Chee Soon Juan misunderstood the employment data he cited at his party's Tuesday night rally, the Ministry of Manpower said yesterday. In doing so, he "painted an alarmist picture of the job market for Singaporeans", MOM added in its statement.

Dr Chee had said that in all of last year, the Government had created only 100 jobs for citizens and permanent residents. "That means one job per constituency," he added. "How many of you here in Bukit Batok think you're going to fight for that one job if and when you're retrenched?"

MOM clarified that the increase mentioned by Dr Chee is not the total number of new jobs taken up by locals last year. The increase is actually the difference between the total number of locals taking up and leaving jobs, for example due to retirement. This difference - the "net" number of new jobs taken by locals - was 700 last year.

In January, MOM's initial estimates showed the net number of new jobs taken by locals went up by 100 at end-2015 compared to a year ago. The figure was updated in March to 700. This net figure does not reflect the total number of new jobs for locals. "Despite the slowdown in net local employment growth, most Singaporeans looking for jobs are able to find one," said MOM, citing a March report.

Their ability to find jobs is why the unemployment rate of locals has stayed low, and why there are more job openings than job seekers. "The basic reality is that our local workforce growth has slowed," it added, citing three factors: fewer younger workers entering workforce; more baby boomers leaving the workforce; and the fact that the employment rate of 80.5 per cent for locals aged 25 to 64 is already high and cannot grow much further.

These trends are all expected to persist in the medium term due to demographic realities, said MOM.

"This is why we are stepping up efforts in industry transformation - to create not just more jobs but also better-quality jobs for our people."

Charissa Yong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 05, 2016, with the headline 'MOM: Chee misunderstood employment data'. Print Edition | Subscribe