During a walkabout at Taman Jurong yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam told Singaporeans that Singapore has experienced real income growth over the past 5 years, a feat which is considered “really quite unusual” for most other developed economies.
Since 2010, there has been an 18% increases in the median household income of Singaporeans – inclusive of adjustments for the increases in costs of living.
“We’ve seen very unusual sustained income growth in real terms, not just for the people at the top, but for the middle class – and in fact, the households in the low-income group have seen slightly faster real income growth than those in the middle,” he said. “This isn’t some statistics we wish for, this is hard data.”
He noted that various opposition candidates over the past few days have spoken about stagnating wages in the face of inflation, and the need to institute a minimum wage and redistribute resources.
But factually, real incomes have risen, says Tharman. “To realise how unusual that is, you must understand that we operate in a world where very few countries have seen real wage growth in the middle” despite low inflation levels.
“In the advanced countries – the United States, Europe, Japan – there has been negative real income growth … Taiwan has seen negative real income growth, Hong Kong basically flat, a very small increase in income growth far less than our 18 per cent,” He says.