Expect 100K Jobless S’pore Residents In 2020, Post-Covid-19 Blow Worse Than SARS: Heng Swee Keat

DPM Heng Swee Keat Predicts 8 To 10-Year Recovery Period After Covid-19 Pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic has adversely impacted public health and caused businesses to incur heavy losses & even closures. As a result, reduced income & unemployment have been key issues some Singaporeans have been grappling with.

To buffer the financial impacts, our government has released 4 different budgets this year to support Singaporeans and businesses, the most recent being the Fortitude Budget.

While the budget will go some way towards helping Singaporeans in this time of need, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat shares that this year’s outlook still doesn’t look good.

In a national address, he predicted that more than 100,000 Singapore residents will be out of a job.


We summarise what else has been forecast for Singapore’s post-Covid-19 future & how we can cope with these challenges as a nation.

Many jobs will vanish & desirable ones will be harder to find

Mr Heng outlined that the focus of our 4 budgets has been to secure Singaporeans’ jobs and livelihoods, in his round-up speech on the Fortitude Budget on Friday (5 Jun).

However, despite our best efforts to mitigate the economic blows, many jobs around the world will vanish, and job-seekers will find it harder to get desirable ones.

Mr Heng thus estimates that the number of unemployed Singapore residents may rise to more than 100,000 this year, compared with about 73,000 in 2019.

Covid-19’s impact worse than that of SARS

Mr Heng, who is also Finance Minister, said that the highest annual average number of unemployed residents Singapore has ever recorded was during the 2003 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic.

That year, we had 91,000 unemployed residents.

That means the impact of Covid-19 on jobs will be more severe than that of SARS, he added.

Long road to recovery with poor global economic outlook

The poor jobs outlook is reflected in the estimates by the International Labour Organisation, which showed that Covid-19 may raise the number of jobless people globally by “far higher” than 25 million.

During the Global Financial Crisis in 2009, 22 million more workers in the world faced unemployment woes.

According to Mr Heng, after the Great Depression in the 1920s to 1930s, as well as the Global Financial Crisis, the world took 8 to 10 years to get back to the unemployment levels before these crises.

Mr Heng thus advised that the world will take just as long, or perhaps even longer, to recover from the negative impact of Covid-19.

Avoiding a “Covid-19 Generation”

Similar to the “Lost Generation” of youth who had their futures affected by World War I, a “Lockdown Generation” who has been disadvantaged by the Covid-19 restrictions has emerged.

Even after the pandemic is over, these youth could find themselves with lower skills, employability, and incomes.

Thus, Mr Heng urged for steps to be taken to prevent a “Covid Generation” of young workers and students in Singapore, whose prospects are stymied due to the pandemic.

Jobs are the top priority

Hence, helping workers stay in their jobs is the Government’s top priority, and one way is to provide fiscal resources.

That’s why the SGUnited Jobs & Skills package was created — it will increase job routes, and provide workers and companies with tools to adapt and survive the years ahead.

While it’s indeed scary that more Singapore residents than ever before will be jobless, we’re thankful that the Government is doing all it can to help them.

Let’s hope that we recover sooner rather than later.

Featured image from MS News.

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