Dear Mr Goh,
We refer to your email of 11 November 2011 to Minister of State, Mr Tan Chuan-Jin.
2. The World Bank’s figures for Singapore’s unemployment rate primarily refer to the non-seasonally adjusted resident unemployment for June. For instance, the 2009 figure of 5.9% cited by the World Bank is our non-seasonally adjusted resident unemployment rate in June 2009.
3. The unemployment figures released in the Ministry of Manpower’s recent paper on “Singaporeans in the Workforce” pertain to annual average for the years, except for 2011 where the year has not ended and we indicated that the data were the seasonally adjusted figures for June 2011.
4. The unemployment time series has a recurring seasonal pattern that obscures their underlying trends. In Singapore, for instance, unemployment is typically higher in the middle of the year when fresh graduates enter the labour market and students holding vacation jobs during the school holidays. As the use of the non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rates in June gives an incomplete picture of the unemployment situation in Singapore, the annual average figures would be a better representative of the unemployment rate for the whole year. Alternatively, if there is a need to make comparison of unemployment rate between various periods of the year, the seasonally adjusted figures should be used as the seasonal influences have been removed from the series to allow a better comparison of the underlying trend.
5. The time series on our quarterly unemployment rates before and after seasonal adjustment, as well as the annual averages for the years are available in our website at http://www.mom.gov.sg/Documents/statistics-publications/Time-Series-Data/mrsd_11_Resident_unemployment_rate_persons_b_31Oct11.xlsx
6. Singapore’s unemployment statistics conforms to international statistical guidelines. Similar to other countries, Singapore’s unemployment statistics are obtained by surveying a representative sample of households . A description of the unemployment definition, concepts and survey methodology is available in the explanatory notes available on our website.
Head, Quality Service Management
Customer Responsiveness Department . Ministry of Manpower