SINGAPORE - The addition of new citizens has a negligible effect on Singapore's citizen unemployment rate, said Manpower Minister Josephine Teo in Parliament on Monday (Feb 3).
She was responding to Workers' Party Non-Constituency MP Leon Perera's question about the extent to which employed persons who become new citizens in each year affects how the citizen unemployment rate is determined.
Mrs Teo explained that this figure is based on the Labour Force Survey, which asks for the respondent's citizenship at the point of the survey, but does not require the respondent to indicate when he or she obtained citizenship.
It is thus not possible to break down the unemployment rate by duration of citizenship.
Nevertheless, she went on, the addition of new citizens does not change the citizen unemployment rate in any significant way.
"Suppose the citizen unemployment rate is 3 per cent," she said. "This means, if there were only 100 citizens in the labour force, three of them are unemployed. Suppose an employed person becomes a citizen.
"This translates to a 1 per cent growth in the citizen labour force. There are now 101 citizens in the labour force, but still only three who are unemployed.
"As a result, the citizen unemployment rate falls by 0.03 percentage points to 2.97 per cent. Compared to 3 per cent, the effect is mathematically very small."
She added that out of 3.5 million Singapore citizens, significantly less than 1 per cent received their citizenship within the past year.
Some are working adults, while others have yet to join the labour force or have retired.
"This means that the impact on the citizen labour force and unemployment rate is essentially negligible," she concluded.
Correction note: This article has been edited to reflect accurately what Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said in Parliament. We are sorry for the error.