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Article: What Does Employment Mean To You
Released on:31/7/2019 10:00 AM

“Employment” and “Unemployment” sound simple enough, but gaffes do happen from time to time due to confusion over how they’re defined in statistical terms as compared to general use.

For example, the general public sees university students that have graduated but are taking a gap year to travel as “unemployed”.


However, we see them as “persons outside the labour force” instead of “unemployed” because even though they’re not working, they’re also not looking or available for work. The moment their gap year finishes and they’re looking for work, they’re in the unemployed group.


With that said, let’s have a simple breakdown of the various terms that we use to categorise our population:


How are Employment and Unemployment Rates calculated?

Since individuals who are not working are not necessarily unemployed, we cannot simply calculate the unemployment rate by taking 100% minus the employment rate. Another reason is they are calculated using different bases:​


Employment Rate

This is the percentage of employed persons to the working-age population.

Unemployment Rate​

This is the percentage of unemployed persons to the labour force.

For more in-depth definitions of the terms, please click on the links below:

All our definitions are in line with the international guidelines recommended by the International Labour Organisation (ILO). The reason why we define these groups strictly is to get an accurate and realistic understanding of our labour situation, which leads to designing better policies to help our citizens.

If you’re interested to find out more about how we define our terms or any other statistical-related topics you wish to bring up, do write in and let us know!

Our email address is mom_rsd@mom.gov.sg, and please start your email subject with #letstalkdata​, thank you.

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​​What Does Employment Mean to You? | MRSD | Ministry of Manpower​​