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Parliamentary reply on incomes: No “all workers”, “excluding employer CPF” data?

By Leong Sze Hian

I refer to the following written Parliamentary reply on 8 July:


36. Mrs Lina Chiam: To ask the Acting Minister for Manpower for each year from 1980 to 2011 (a) what is the gross monthly wage of the total working population  in Singapore consisting of  Singapore  citizens,  permanent residents and  foreigners; and (b) how does this compare with the gross monthly wage of Singapore citizens on a yearly basis.

Mr Tan Chuan-Jin:

Comparable data on gross monthly income from work are only available from 1996 onwards and only for residents i.e. Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents, as shown in Table 1 below.

Source: Comprehensive Labour Force Survey
Source: Comprehensive Labour Force Survey


1. Data exclude Full-Time National Servicemen.

2. Gross monthly income refers to income earned from employment. It includes employer CPF contributions for employees.

3. n.a.: ‘Not Available’.

4. Data are not available in 2000 and 2005 as the Comprehensive Labour Force Survey was not conducted due to the conduct of the Census of Population 2000 and General Household Survey 2005 by the Singapore Department of Statistics, Ministry of Trade and Industry.

The median gross monthly income of residents is typically higher than that for Singapore Citizens alone as Permanent Residents typically have to display good employability before they are granted residency”


PRs’ income increase more than Sinagaporeans?

From the above data, I computed the annualised increase in the median gross monthly income to be 3,24 and 3.69 %, from 1996 to 2012, for Singaporeans and Residents, respectively.

Real income growth at only 1.43 %?

Since inflation as computed from the Department of Statistics was 1.81 % for the same period (1996 CPI 84.9 to 2012 CPI 113.1), I estimate that the real annualised income growth was 1.43% and 1.88% for Singaporeans and Residents, respectively.

No ‘all workers’ & excluding employer CPF data?

Since the reply only gives the data on full-time employed residents and Singaporeans, including employer CPF contribution, what is the data for all (full-time and part-time) employed persons, excluding employer CPF contribution?

In this regard, I understand that the data in recent years have generally focused in the narrative on full-time workers including employer CPF contribution, whereas the historical data of say more than 5 years ago may have focused in the narrative on all employed persons excluding employer CPF contribution.

But, MOM have including & excluding CPF data?

Since the Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) web site shows both including and excluding employer CPF contribution data, why does the reply only have the data including employer CPF contribution?

Although I am unable to find the latest data for all (full-time and part-time) employed workers now, I understand that these were readily published in the MOM’s reports in the past up to as recently as a few years ago.

Is real income growth even lower?

So, is the real median income growth even lower than 1.43 % per annum for all employed workers excluding employer CPF contribution, for the last 16 years?

0.85 % real income growth last decade?

For example, I estimate that the real growth in the Median Gross Monthly Income From Work of the Full-Time Employed (not all employed including part-time) per annum from 2002 to 2012 was only about 0.85 per cent.

0.1% 20th percentile real wage growth last decade?

So far, we have been talking about the median income. I estimate that the  20th percentile of workers had only 0.1 per cent per annum real wage growth (excluding employer CPF contribution) for the last decade or so (“Lowest income had highest inflation & lowest pay rise?“, Feb 5)

I shudder to think what this group’s real income growth was for the last 16 years – Zero or negative?


Just show all data lah?

For whatever reasons that the MOM may now have to focus on the full-time workers including employer CPF contribution data, for the purpose of easy comparison and consistency, may I suggest that the all workers data be made available side-by-side in the same table with the full-time workers’ data too.

After all, if the MOM can now show both the including and excluding employer CPF contribution data in the same table, I see no reason why the full-time and all workers’ data cannot be similarly shown in the same table too.

Widening income gap between PRs and Singaporeans?

Finally, the data also indicates that the income gap between Residents and Singaporeans’ incomes may have been widening over the years, from 3.9 % in 1997 to 7.1 % in 2012.

In other words, permanent residents (PRs) were progressively earning more than Singaporeans.

The explanation in the Parliamentary reply was that “The median gross monthly income of residents is typically higher than that for Singapore Citizens alone as Permanent Residents typically have to display good employability before they are granted residency”.

So, does it mean that over the years, PRs “good employability” has become increasingly better, on a relative basis to Singaporeans?

Higher pay jobs going to PRs?

Finally, what do we have here? – What does it mean to Singaporeans? – That perhaps the better paying jobs are increasingly going to PRs relative to Singaporeans? I wonder what is the data for the higher income percentiles like the 70th, 80th and 90th percentiles? – Maybe an even wider gap between PRs and Singaporeans?

Could it be that the higher pay jobs may be going more so to PRs, relative to Singaporeans?


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