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More FAQs

  • Who is counted as unemployed and how are the statistics compiled?

    Persons are counted as unemployed if they are currently not working, and are actively looking and available for work. This definition follows international practice, allowing us to objectively benchmark our labour market performance against other countries.

    Like many other countries, Singapore’s unemployment statistics are obtained by surveying a representative sample of households. They are not obtained from administrative sources such as the database of job registrants with career centres at the Community Development Councils (CDCs), records of the Central Provident Fund (CPF) or the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS).
  • If a person has been out of work for an extended period (e.g. 1 year or more), is he still considered unemployed?

    As this person still does not have a job, he would be considered unemployed if he is still actively looking and available for work. Whether he has been unemployed for a long or short period is not a factor in determining whether he is classified as unemployed. Along with statistics on unemployment, we publish statistics on the long-term unemployed i.e. those unemployed for at least 25 weeks, regularly in the quarterly Labour Market Reports.
  • Who is counted as long-term unemployed?

    Long-term unemployed persons are those who have been unemployed for 25 weeks or more. They are a sub-group of all unemployed persons.

    Unemployed persons refer to persons aged fifteen years and over who are not working but are actively looking for a job and are available for work during the reference period.
  • If an unemployed person is not registered with the career centres at the Community Development Councils (CDCs) is he considered unemployed?

    A person is considered unemployed if he is currently not working and is actively looking and available for work. It is not determined by whether he is registered with career centres at the CDCs.

    Unemployment statistics are compiled from the Labour Force Survey which is conducted on a representative sample of households in Singapore, in line with international practice.
  • Are "discouraged workers" considered as unemployed persons?

    “Discouraged workers” are not looking for a job because they believe their job search would not yield results. In line with international practice, persons are counted as unemployed if they are currently not working but are actively looking and available for work. As a discouraged worker is not looking for a job, he is not unemployed. He is instead classified as outside the labour force.

    We do collect information on the reasons for being outside the labour force, from which we derive statistics on “discouraged workers”. They are published annually in the report on Labour Force in Singapore.
  • If a person settles for part-time work because he cannot find full-time employment, is he considered unemployed?

    A person working part-time because he cannot find full-time employment is not considered unemployed, as he is working. However, he belongs to a group of workers known as underemployed persons. In line with international statistical guidelines, these are persons aged 15 years and over who are working part-time but are willing and available to work additional hours. Statistics on underemployment are published annually in the report on Labour Force in Singapore.
  • To find out how vulnerable graduates are to unemployment, should we use the share of unemployed graduates out of all unemployed persons?

    The share of unemployed graduates refers to the percentage of unemployed graduates out of all unemployed persons. This share may increase simply because there are more graduates in the labour force. A higher share of graduates among the unemployed therefore need not mean that graduates are becoming more vulnerable to unemployment, but could just reflect the improving educational profile of the population.

    To find out if graduates are becoming more vulnerable to unemployment, we should instead look at the unemployment rate for graduates, which refers to the percentage of unemployed graduates out of all graduates in the labour force.
  • With high employment growth, would unemployment decrease?

    While employment growth measures the additional number of persons in employment, unemployment measures the number of persons who are not in employment but are actively seeking and available for jobs. Unemployment can vary due to changes in demand or supply of manpower. Hence, high employment growth may not necessarily translate to lower unemployment.

    Unemployment can decline if more people succeed in finding jobs or if unemployed persons stop looking for a job and leave the labour force either temporarily (e.g. to take up training) or permanently (e.g. to retire). Conversely, unemployment may rise due to an increase in jobseekers (e.g. laid off workers, fresh graduates or re-entrants to the labour market) or if more people quit their jobs to look for alternative employment.​

  • Is the unemployment rate always 100% minus the employment rate?

    No. The employment rate is the percentage of employed persons out of all persons aged 15 years and over (or the working-age population). It is not the converse of the unemployment rate because persons who are not employed can either be unemployed or outside the labour force (or economically inactive). We do not consider the persons outside the labour force in calculating the unemployment rate, which is the percentage of unemployed persons out of all persons in the labour force, in line with international definition.
  • Should we compare non-seasonally adjusted unemployment data of say June 2011 with that of September 2011 when studying unemployment trend movements?

    No, we should instead use seasonally adjusted unemployment data. This is because unemployment data have seasonal influences that make it difficult to observe the underlying trend.

    In Singapore, unemployment is typically higher in the middle of the year when our graduates enter the labour market and students look for vacation jobs. Later in the year, unemployment typically falls as graduates find work and students return to school. This seasonal pattern makes it difficult for us to tell if a rise or fall in unemployment is a true reflection of the underlying trend or merely due to seasonal influences.

    To remove the seasonal influences, we adopt a technique used by most national statistical agencies, to produce seasonally adjusted data that will enable us to observe the underlying trends more clearly. We should use the seasonally adjusted data to compare unemployment between different times of the year.

    For non-seasonally adjusted unemployment data, it is more appropriate to compare between the same period across years i.e. June 2012 with June 2011.
  • How is long-term unemployment rate computed?

    Long-term unemployment rate is computed by dividing the number of persons who are long-term unemployed by the number of persons in the labour force (i.e. all persons working or seeking work). It tells us the proportion of long-term unemployed out of all persons working or seeking work. Long-term unemployment is widely used as an indicator for structural unemployment, as it can be compared easily across countries.
Last updated on 27 May 2013 17:50:31
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