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Singapore in Numbers - People Outside the Workforce

SG Residents outside the workforce (MOM)

As 2017 winds to a close, many are looking to the well-deserved holiday break and bonus season typically associated with the end of the year. For our final installment for the year, we had thought it apt to shed light on the folks in Singapore who are outside the labour force for one reason or another.

According to the Ministry of Manpower, persons is outside the labour force (also known as economically inactive) are persons aged fifteen and over who are neither employed nor unemployed (i.e. they are neither working nor seeking work) during the reference period.

As at 2016, there are over 1 million residents outside the labour force in Singapore; and has been growing at a modest 0.4% CAGR over the last 10 years. As at 2016, they make up about 32% of residents aged 15 and above; and has fluctuated between 32-35% the last 10 years.

In Singapore’s context, it is not unusual to find high percentages of residents outside the labour force below the age of 25; since those pursuing tertiary educations remain in the education system till ages 22 to 25. However, there is notable growth in numbers outside the labour force among those aged 60 and above;

more evidence of Singapore’s ageing population.

As interesting as the statistics are, the more interesting question is what are the reasons so many people end up being outside the workforce. A person may be outside the labour force for several reasons; the Ministry of Manpower has chosen the following classifications:

  • Education or Training

  • Childcare

  • Take a break

  • Poor Health/Disability

  • Caregiver

  • Have enough finances

  • Housework

  • Discouraged

Reasons for being outside the workforce (MOM 2016)

Key takeaways

Singapore is well known for its prosperity as well as its low unemployment. But just over 1 million residents are not part of the employment equation. Data shows that most Singaporean’s who are outside the workforce are not “slacking”; in fact, many contribute to their families and Singapore in their own way.

Behind each data point is

  • Someone who helped build Singapore in its formative years

  • Someone who gave up an education or career to care for members of their family; be it parent or child

  • Someone who, through no fault of their own, has been born with health issues or disabilities

As 2017 draws to a close, spare a thought for those who are less fortunate in Singapore and FYT wishes you and them a brighter future in 2018. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

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