Singapore

Median income of residents dip for the first time since 2004

The incomes of Singapore residents took a hit not felt since 2004 because of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to advance estimates released by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) yesterday.

The nominal median income of residents - Singaporeans and permanent residents - dipped by 0.6 per cent to $4,534 over the year to June, down from $4,563 last year.

After taking inflation into account, real median income fell by 0.3 per cent, a reversal from the 2.2 per cent growth the previous year.

The income data is for people in full-time employment and includes employer CPF contributions.

Those earning less were more badly affected. Real income at the 20th percentile dropped by 4.5 per cent, not including government payouts.

MOM said this is due to industries more adversely affected by the pandemic having a high concentration of lower-income earners.

The incomes of lower- income self-employed workers such as taxi or private-hire car drivers and hawkers were also impacted by the plunge in tourist arrivals, work-from-home arrangements, and suspension of dine-in services during the two-month circuit breaker period from April to June.

MOM noted that if government payouts to lower-income earners are factored in, such as the Workfare Income Supplement and the one-off Workfare Special Payment this year, the income level at the 20th percentile this year is similar to the level last year.

Over the five years from 2015 to 2020, the income growth of full-timers at the 20th percentile (2.9 per cent per year) remained slightly higher than at the median (2.7 per cent per year).

A recent survey by human resource consultancy Mercer found about a quarter of organisations in Singapore plan to introduce or continue with salary freezes, slightly lower than the 30 per cent that paused wage increments this year.

Employment