Why I say the WP are pulling figures out of their ARSE.
Almost as a reflex (almost, because I suspect they checked what the people's reaction were first before) they said a populist-advised "NO!" to 6.9m, and then they went on to counter propose a 5.9m projection. Based on what?
Based on giving Singaporeans what they want!
And what do Singaporeans want?
NO MORE FOREIGN LABOUR!
And the WP said, "No Problem! No further increase in Foreign Labour. We don't need them. If we FREEZE foreign workers, we can use local labour to make up the difference. We just need to INCREASE the labour force participation rate!
"The Labour Force Survey 2012 found that there are 418,000 economically inactive residents of working age, of which 90,000 are willing to work. This is a valuable pool of labour that can be tapped."
(From WP website).
Really? Just like that and they can keep the population down to 5.9m?
From my comments on another post:
"The PEOPLE say enough is enough! We the WP propose an ALTERNATIVE population PROJECTION of 5.9 million by 2030 instead of the 6.9 million you projected. How did we arrived at 5.9million? We pulled it out of our ARSE, that's how! We can do that because we are the WP! PAP only know how to look at facts and figures and project from those facts and figures! They have NO imagination. They don't have the kind of ARSE we have!
"Same for GDP growth. Pick a number, any number. WP can project that! You want more MODEST growth? We will DEMAND more MODEST growth from the PAP on your behalf! SEE? I just pulled another modest growth number out of my ARSE! 2.5% to 3%! 1.5% to 2%! YEAH! See how easy it is? Why don't the PAP do that? Because they DON"T CARE about you! They care only about FACTS and FIGURES and what they can PROVE! They are all about HARD facts, not about being soft and people-oriented!"
I couldn't find those economically inactive numbers WP quoted, but there are a lot of figures and tables, so let's assume he found them, but I couldn't.
What I did find was Table 95 of the 2012 Labour Force Survey [Link Edited. This now brings you to a page to download the PDF] which is the table on "Economically Inactive Residents Aged Fifteen and over by Main Reason for Not Working".
Note that this table is for residents (not citizens), and is from age 15 and over, whereas WP figures are for "Working Age".
Here are the problems with WP proposal (and why I say they are pulling figures out of their ARSE!) Their solution to meet the labour shortage is to encourage the economically inactive to become economically active. Just like that. So easy. What's the problem, right?
Here's the first problem.
Singapore's Labour Force Participation Rate (LFPR) is already very high at about 66%. It has even gone up (about 5%) over the last 12 years, and is higher than the GLOBAL average (about 64%). So it is unlikely to get very much higher. Men's LFPR is already at 73.4%. Women's LFPR is only 55.3%, and pulls the average down. Since men's rate are already so high, it is very difficult to raise it.
Here's the second problem. The top three reasons why men are economically inactive are, 1) Studying (45%), 2) Retired (26%), and 3) poor health or disabled (19%). That's 90%. I don't know what you might be thinking, but IMHO, these are EXCELLENT reasons to be "economically inactive".
The top 3 reasons why women are economically inactive are, 1) Housekeeping (29%), 2) Studies (23%), and 3) poor health or disability (19.2%). Another 4.4% are caring for families/relatives, and another 10% are caring for their children. And about 10% are retired. These are also EXCELLENT reasons for being economically inactive.
So if you drag the women from their house to work, who's going to take care of their children, their sick or elderly relatives, or do housework? A maid? But that would mean MORE foreign labour!
Here's the third problem. Most of the jobs foreign workers are brought in to do are physically demanding work, maybe even menial work. Work which Singaporeans shun. Our local women are not samsui women. (Which, BTW were foreign workers in their time. They were from the Samsui (or san sui) region of China, hence their name.)
In summary, here is why WP figures and their proposed alternative are ridiculous:
1) Assumes "economically inactive" means "lazy bums just waiting to be kicked into economic activity".
2) Assumes all such former "lazy bums" CAN do the work that foreign labour are being brought in to do.
3) Assumes all such former lazy bums WANT to do the work that foreign labour are brought in to do.
That's A LOT of assumptions, which with a little bit of web research you can find out if it is feasible, or if your assumption are ARSE-based. (ARSE stands for "Anyhow Read Statistics, Eh?")
And even if you don't want to be a statistics-reading, PAP-wannabe, and you claim to be a party for the common people, then why are you proposing increasing our LFPR when most if not all developed countries are having LOWER and falling LFPR? Why are you proposing to DRAG women (it will have to be predominantly women) from their homes where they are caring for their family and their children, out into the workforce? What happens to their family, their elderly, their sick, their disabled family members? What happens to their children?
We want a kinda, gentler, slower-paced Singapore and your solution is to ramp up our LFPR? Isn't a kinder, gentler Singapore about families caring for each other? Isn't it about "Family-first" instead of "go out there and make a buck and hire some stranger to care for grandpa"?
I thought it was the PAP who is supposed to be the heartless, tone-deaf, anything-for-economics party?
If WP wants any kind of credibility, they will need to be more thorough in their research, and understand that behind the statistics are real people, with real lives, and real problems.
Instead of treating numbers (and the people they represent) as just pawns to beat the PAP at their own game.
[April 2015 update:
MOM now uses the term "Outside the labour force" for people previously known as "economically inactive".
For 2014, the main reasons for men to be outside the labour force are 1) Studying (44%), 2) retired (28%), and 3) Poor Health/Disabled (19%). That's about 91%
For women, 1) Housework, Childcare & care for relatives (41%), 2) Studying (23%), 3) Poor Health/Disabled (20%), 4) Retired 12%. That's about 95%.]