Employment Rate For Senior Citizens Rises In 2020, But Median Income Of S’pore Residents Drops

Employment Rate For Seniors Rises 0.9 Percentage Points, Only Age Group To See Increase

For many Singaporeans affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, jobs are constantly on their mind.

That’s why the monthly updates on Singapore’s employment situation, given by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), are anticipated by many who want to know whether we’re doing any better.

In the most recently released estimates, MOM reported a few interesting findings, one of them being that the employment rate for senior citizens has actually risen.


The median income of Singapore residents, however, dropped for the 1st time since 2004.

Annual labour report reflects Covid-19 impact

The annual Labour Force in Singapore Advance Release 2020 was released on Thursday (3 Dec), the MOM said in a media release.

The report was based on a survey conducted in June 2020, amid Singapore’s ‘Circuit Breaker’.

During that period, the curbs on business activities and movement were at their most stringent.

Thus, the report reflects on the impact of Covid-19 on the jobs situation.

Employment rate for seniors rose 0.9 percentage points

The report noted employment rate trends based on 3 age groups of Singapore residents (that is, Singaporeans and permanent residents):

  1. 15-24
  2. 25-64
  3. 65 and over

In 2020, the employment rate for senior citizens above 65 was the only one to increase, from 27.6% in Jun 2019 to 28.5% in Jun 2020 — or a 0.9-percentage-point rise.


For those in the 25-64 age group, who’re in their “prime working age”, employment rate dipped slightly, from 80.8% in 2019 to 80.3% in 2020.

However, the report pointed out that the average in the past 5 years was 80.5%, so the figure is close to that.

The employment rate of young people aged 15-24 dropped by much more — from 33.9% in 2019 to 30.9% in 2020, continuing a downward trend.

The report noted that younger workers more more likely to be employed in food and beverage services, administrative and support services, and retail trade — jobs affected by the ‘Circuit Breaker’.


Overall, the decline in employment of Singapore residents aged above 15 was 0.7 percentage points — from 65.2% in 2019 to 64.5% in 2020.

That’s the lowest employment rate since 2014.

Median income went down

Singapore residents who were employed full-time were not spared either.

Their median income fell by 0.6%, from $4,563 in 2019 to $4,534 in 2020.

After taking inflation into account, real median income went down by 0.3%. This is compared with the growth of 2.2% in 2019.

This data also includes employer contributions to the Central Provident Fund (CPF).

However, governmental payouts like the Workfare Income Supplement (WIS), for lower-income earners, and one-off payments like the Workfare Special Payment (WSP) helped to cushion the impact of Covid-19, MOM said.


Minister Josephine Teo lauds support measures

Manpower Minister Josephine Teo, who posted about the report on Facebook on Thursday (3 Dec) night, acknowledged the rise in unemployment rates and the reduction in earnings.


However, she noted that support measures have helped to “moderate the impact” of Covid-19 and ensure Singapore’s employment rate remains “fairly high”.


Thus, Singapore now has a “reasonable footing” on which we can to strengthen our recovery, she added.

Resilient senior citizens

It’s interesting that our resilient senior citizens are managing to keep themselves employed when those who’re younger have been adversely affected by the pandemic.


While we’re grateful that the employment rate has remained fairly high, it would definitely be better if the younger and more able-bodied population would see jobs growth too.

For more revelations from this year’s labour report, do check out the MOM website.

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