According to the Straits Times news report “Social work: One of the hottest mid-career options in town” (May 19) – “Low pay and the lack of a structured career pathway had resulted in a high attrition rate in the past. Nonetheless, in the last decade, the number of workers in the sector has tripled to 16,000.”


Social service assistant pay only $1,200?

In this connection, according to the article “Don’t neglect VWOs’ ground staffs” (The Independent, Mar 13, 2014) – “An average pay of a social service assistant is only $1200.”

Whilst we keep hearing news about increasing the pay of higher-pay social service professionals – are we forgetting about the pay of the ground staff at VWOs?

This issue of “low wages” is not peculiar to the social service sector – it is perhaps endemic in the entire workforce.


360,000 earn below $1,200 in 2006

According to the “PROGRESS REPORT OF MINISTERIAL COMMITTEE ON LOW WAGE WORKERS” published on 7 JUNE 2009 – “the number earning $1,200 or less has fallen from 360,000 in 2006 to below 300,000 in 2008″.


400,100 earn below $1,200 in 2010

About two years later in 2010 – according to the Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) Singapore Workforce 2010 Report , released on 30 November 2010 – there were 400,100 residents who earned up to $1,200 and below per month from work, forming 21% of the workforce. This was slightly lower than the 401,600 or 22% a year ago in 2009 .


$1,200 without any inflation adjustment?

In 2001, 25.1% of residents earned less than $1,200. Are there more people today earning less than $1,200 (inflation-adjusted), compared to 14 years ago?

Why do we keep using the same $1,200 benchmark, year after year, for so many years, without adjusting for inflation?

Since inflation was about 32 per cent from 2001 to 2014 – the equivalent of $1,200 in 2001 is about $1,584 today.

Using this figure of $1,584 – how many residents earned less than this?


415,800 earn below $1,500 in 2014

According to the Labour Force in Singapore report, 2014 – there were 415,800 residents earning less than $1,500.


500,000 earn below $1,584?

If we include the seasonally adjusted 56,500 unemployed residents as of March 2015, and the discouraged unemployed, I estimate that as many as over half a million residents may earn less than $1,584 or are unemployed.


1 in 4 Singaporeans earn below $1,584?

This is about one in four resident workers out of the total resident workforce of 2,185,200 in June 2014.

Is the figure even more dismal for Singaporeans, excluding permanent residents (PRs), since PRs generally earn about 20 plus per cent more than Singaporeans?


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