Singapore families earned more from work for every person last year

Median income for every household member rose to $2,792 last year - 3.4 per cent more on a dollar basis

Singapore families earned more from work per person last year, with some top earners likely surpassing the median growth rate because they are in industries plugged into the new digital economy.

The median income for every household member rose to $2,792 last year - 3.4 per cent more on a dollar basis, or a 3 per cent increase after taking inflation into account, according to the latest household income figures released by the Department of Statistics yesterday.

The increase was especially pronounced for families in the top 11 to 29 per cent range (the 71st to 90th percentiles), who saw their real incomes rise by 4 per cent for each household member.

Those in the bottom 70 per cent saw their incomes grow from between 2.5 and 3.4 per cent a household member, while the top 10 per cent saw their incomes rise 2.3 per cent per household member.

The average monthly income for every member ranged from $570 for the bottom 10 per cent to $13,581 for the top 10 per cent.

Household income from work includes Central Provident Fund contributions from employers, but excludes income from other sources such as dividends and rent.

It also does not count maids' wages.

Altogether, families with at least one working member - which make up almost nine-tenths of all households here - saw real median employment income grow by 2.6 per cent to $9,293 last year, compared with 1.5 per cent growth in 2017.

Economists attributed the across-the-board increase to the economy logging better-than-expected growth in the first half of last year, as well as relatively low inflation.

As for why the top 11 to 29 per cent of families saw their incomes grow more, CIMB Private Banking economist Song Seng Wun said the employed people in these households may be professionals in industries seeing higher demand, such as IT and fintech.

Public schemes handed out an average of $4,494 to each resident household member last year.

This was $9 lower, on average, than in 2017, due to a drop in MediShield Life transitional subsidies and the absence of one-off grants like NS50 vouchers.

Residents in one- and two-room Housing Board flats continued to receive, on average, $10,347 in such transfers - more than double those in other types of properties.

News of the income growth was of cold comfort to a 32-year-old customer relations manager who wanted to be known only as Mrs Tan.

The mother of a three-year-old boy received a pay rise of $320 last year, which she said worked out to about a 7 per cent increase.

"Percentage-wise, I guess you can say it's good. But when you add up the cost of raising your kid and taking care of your parents, it doesn't feel like we will be relaxing any time soon," she said.