With the pandemic going on for more than two years now, it’s no secret that our economy has seen many changes.

The good news? Degree holders are still getting employed?

The bad news? Their salaries have been lower.

Increase in Employment Rate for Degree Holders

According to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM)’s Labour Force in Singapore report, for degree holders from 25 to 64 years old, the employment rate increased slightly from 87.6% in 2019 and 2020 to 87.7% in 2021.

Overall, the employment rate in Singapore rose significantly from 64.5% in June 2020 to 67.2% in June 2021 after taking a hit in 2020. The employment rate recorded in June 2021 was also higher than that of June 2019, which stood at 65.2%.

The ministry also noted that the increase was diverse, with the employment rates of men, women seniors and youths all seeing a rise.

This reflected the effectiveness of government support through the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package, Job Support Scheme and Jobs Growth Incentive.

Although the increase in demand for manpower for COVID-related operations contributed partially to the increase in the employment rate, it was also noted that the number of residents in permanent jobs also grew.

Decrease in Salary for Degree Holders

Well, not all that glitters is gold.

Coupled along with the high inflation rates in recent years, the median income rates only rose by 0.2% per annum in real terms for degree holders as compared to 2016.

The rest of the workforce enjoyed a higher increase in median income rates, with workers at the 20th percentile experiencing a 2.7% increase in median income rates per annum. Overall, the workforce saw a 2.1% increase in median income rates per annum from 2016 to 2021.

Those in the 20th percentile also saw a 4.4% increase in just 2021 alone, bringing their median income rates much closer to pre-COVID levels. When Workfare Income Supplement-related payouts were included, their median income rates were actually higher than the pre-COVID level by 0.5% per annum.

The median income of full-time employed degree holders was S$7,351 in 2021, a decrease from S$7,434 in 2020 and S$7,605 in 2019 before the pandemic began. The report also cited that this was due to how salaries were “pulled down by lower bonuses amid the more uncertain economic climate”.

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Decrease in Involuntary Unemployment Rates

Apart from that, there was also a decrease in those who left their jobs involuntarily, which MOM mentioned was a marker of economic recovery in Singapore.

The factors that fall under leaving one’s job involuntarily include retrenchment, cessation of business and temporary layoff without pay.

Rather, many left their jobs out of their own will due to their discontent with the working environment, whether it was the long hours, low pay or working conditions.

MOM suggested that the increase in voluntary unemployment rates may have been due to the fact that COVID-19 has opened up a wider variety of job opportunities due to the economic recovery. As such, “more workers could have been encouraged to look for a more suitable job”.

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