Singapore

Incomes rose faster for PMETS this year: MOM

But demand for non-PMET workers is lower

The light at the end of the tunnel is shining brighter for professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) this year.

A smaller proportion of them are jobless compared with last year, said the initial report on the annual labour force survey released by the Manpower Ministry yesterday.

Demand for non-PMET workers, however, is lower.

Overall, the monthly income of the average worker, after taking into account inflation, has gone up.

The improved situation for resident PMETs is in its early stages. Their unemployment rate dipped from 3.1 per cent last year to 3 per cent this year, after being on the uptrend since 2012.

But it is still higher than the first half of this decade.

Similarly, the long-term unemployment rate for PMETs, which shows the proportion who are out of work for at least six months, came down to 0.7 per cent this year, after rising to 0.9 per cent last year.

Still, the figures from the mid-year survey of Singaporeans and permanent residents heartened analysts like DBS economist Irvin Seah.

He foresees job prospects for PMETs improving further as export-oriented sectors, such as information technology and financial services, recover.

PMETs, who form 56 per cent of working Singapore residents, were the worst hit in the slowdown of the last few years.

Mr Toby Fowlston, managing director for South-east Asia at recruitment firm Robert Walters, added that e-commerce, insurance and logistics are among the key sectors driving the growing demand for high-skilled workers.

However, non-PMETs faced a harder slog in the past year as the number of non-PMET job vacancies is shrinking, a trend since 2014, said the ministry.

Their unemployment rate rose to 4.5 per cent this year, from 4.2 per cent last year, while the long-term unemployment rate remained unchanged at 0.7 per cent.

The median monthly income for residents in full-time jobs, including employer contributions to the Central Provident Fund, rose by 4.3 per cent to $4,232 this year. This was a higher pay rise than the 2.7 per cent growth last year.

Taking into account inflation, the real median monthly income rose by 3.7 per cent this year, up from 3.3 per cent last year.

In a Facebook post, Labour MP Patrick Tay called on employers to "continue to raise productivity by embracing technology and innovation and share the gains from productivity with workers to motivate them".

Maybank Kim Eng economist Chua Hak Bin noted that unlike the surprisingly strong wage growth for full-time workers, the median monthly income of part-time workers remained flat.

"If the proportion in freelance and part-time jobs is growing, keeping track of wage trends in this part of the economy will become more important," he said.

Lower-wage workers have seen their gross monthly incomes going up, boosted by schemes like the progressive wage model which sets wage floors for various skill levels.

In the past five years, the income of full-time workers in the bottom 20th percentile rose by an average of 4.8 per cent a year, to $2,200 last year.

This is higher than the average growth of 4 per cent a year at the median - the mid-point of a range.

Meanwhile, the ageing population and greater likelihood of young people pursuing further education instead of starting work, has lowered slightly the labour force participation rate for residents aged 15 and older, said the ministry.

Employment