If you have been following the news, you would have read that Singapore’s real median income, after adjusting for inflation, is at 2.1 per cent.
This is an improvement from 0.9% in 2021.
But before we pop the champagne to celebrate, this is actually lower than the pre-COVID average of 3.8 per cent, from 2014 to 2019, when inflation was lower.
So, have our wages increased enough to beat inflation in 2022? Let’s find out!
Disclaimer: This article contains the latest June 2023 statistics published by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), Singapore on 30 June 2023.
TL;DR: Median Income in Singapore And What It Means For Singaporeans
Click here to jump:
- Median Income in Singapore
- Real vs Nominal Income in Singapore
- What is Singapore’s Labour Workforce Like?
- How to Ask for a Pay Raise?
Median Income in Singapore
As of June 2022, this is the median gross monthly income* of employed residents aged 15 and above:
|As of June 2022|
(Excluding Full-time National Servicemen)
|Including Employer CPF||Excluding Employer CPF|
Source: Comprehensive Labour Force Survey, Manpower Research & Statistics Department, MOM
*Gross monthly income refers to income earned from employment. For employees, it refers to the gross monthly wages or salaries before the deduction of employee CPF contributions and personal income tax. It comprises basic wages, overtime pay, commissions, tips, other allowances and one-twelfth of annual bonuses. For self-employed persons, gross monthly income refers to the average monthly profits from their business, trade or profession
(i.e. total receipts less business expenses incurred) before deduction of income tax).
While this is good to know to gauge where you stand, the bigger problem here is whether our wages have actually kept up with inflation. This can be derived from something called “Real Income”
Real vs Nominal Income in Singapore
The difference between the two is whether inflation has been accounted for.
Simply put, Real Income, also known as real wage, is how much money an individual or entity makes after adjusting for inflation. Nominal Income, on the other hand, does not account for inflation.
On a yearly basis, the MOM measures the gross monthly income from work. This is said to be the widest measure of income from employment, covering both employees and the self-employed.
For the income of a typical worker, one should look at the median gross monthly income. This is the income in the middle after the workers are ranked by their income.
Catching it so far?
Singapore’s nominal income of full-time employed residents grew by 8.3% from $4,680 in 2021 to $5,070 in 2022, while the real median income rose to 2.1%, up from 0.9% in 2021.
However, the real median income growth in 2022 was still lower than that in the years before the pandemic, at 3.8% p.a. when inflation was lower.
What does this mean?
This means that inflation remains faster, and as we all know, prices will remain elevated through 2023.
For those who’re wondering, this is Singapore’s real basic wage changes over the years:
|Basic Wage Change|
Singapore’s Labour Force in 2022
In general, Singapore’s employment rate rose to 67.5% as we ease into a post-pandemic world, and this is higher than 2019’s pre-COVID figure of 65.2%.
The unemployment rate fell over the year from 3.4% to 2.6% for Professionals, Managers, Executives, and Technicians (PMETs) and from 5.1% to 4.4% for non-PMETs.
The PMETs still occupy the highest percentage of Singapore’s labour force, at 64%. This reflects a highly educated workforce!
When ranked against the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries on overall employment rate, Singapore would place third.
While this is the overall picture currently, we can’t ignore the fact that there is also an uptick in layoffs specifically in the technology sector.
Hopefully, if anyone is keen on changing their industries, or would like to upskill, they would be able to get the help they need.
How to Ask for a Pay Raise?
By now, if you have not asked for pay raise, you might be losing out.
Take these steps before you talk to your boss!
For early jobbers and job seekers, you don’t want to be lowballed and it’s good to know how much you’ll be paid, and ask for it.
Despite some improvements in the figures, it’s not all rosy after all.
As someone who’s sandwiched between generations, I can’t help but struggle at times too.
Besides ongoing inflation, we also have the Goods and Services Tax (GST) increments to deal with, one on 1 Jan 2023, and another on 1 Jan 2024.
Hopefully, we will be able in a better state by then as we cope with inflation.
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