Real incomes rise

I refer to the article “Real incomes rise in Singapore amid tight labour market: MOM report” (Channel NewsAsia, Nov 30).

20th percentile real income increased 2.1%

It states that “There was a “sustained increase” in income at the median and 20th percentile over the last five years, helped by initiatives to boost the income of low-wage workers, MOM said. After accounting for inflation, real income growth was 3.1 per cent at the median and 2.1 per cent at the 20th percentile.”

So, if you earned $1,000 five years ago – your real income would now be $1,110 – a real increase per year of only about $22.

I looked at the report and was curious as to why the statistics only goes back to the last 9 years (2006 to 2015)?

There is no data for 2005 (n.a. – Not available – The Comprehensive Labour Force Survey was not conducted in 2005 due to the conduct of the General Household Survey 2005 by the Department of Statistics, Ministry of Trade and Industry).

Including vs excluding employer CPF contribution?

Also, the income statistics cited in the subject media report is including employer CPF contribution.

1.5% annualised real increase last 14 years?

So, I looked at the data for excluding employer CPF contribution from 2001, and estimate that the annualised real increase in the median income for the last 14 years, may only be about 1.5 per cent.

The above was computed based on inflation of about 2.1 per cent from December 2000 (CPI 74.809) to December 2014 (CPI 99.984) (note: the subject latest MOM report uses inflation from June to June), and median income of $2,100 in 2001 and $3,467 in 2015 (annualised nominal increase of 3.6 per cent).

Isn’t the estimated annualised real increase in income of only about 1.5 per cent kind of low for the last 14 years?

For example, if you earned $1,000 in 2001 – your income now would only be $1,232 – an average increase of only about $17 per year over the last 14 years.

20th percentile annualised real increase less than 1.5%?

As the MOM report does not give the “excluding employer CPF” data for the 20th percentile income – I am unable to compute an estimation of the annualised real increase in income for this income category.

However, as its annualised real increase was one per cent lower than the median income for the last five years – it may be likely that the figure for the last 14 years may similarly be lower than the median income’s estimate of 1.5 per cent.

So, the example above of an average increase of about $17 per year may be even lower.

Singaporeans’ increase even lower?

Also, as the statistics are for residents – what are the numbers for Singaporeans? Is it even lower than the 1.5 per cent estimated above for residents (median) and perhaps even lower for the 20th percentile?

Reciprocate trust with more transparency?
Since the people have given their trust and mandate – shouldn’t we reciprocate by being more transparent?

Leong Sze Hian

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