Labour statistics in Singapore shows 550,000 worse off eight years than before

By Leong Sze Hian

After writing “407,400 earn less than $1,200 after CPF?” (Dec 27) – Terry Xu, the Editor of TOC sent me an email regarding the labour statistics.

It got me thinking – are lower-income workers better off today compared to say eight years ago?

2007 – 495,800 earn less than $1,200?

Well, in 2007 –  there were 495,800 employed residents earning a median gross income of less than $1,200, which was about 25.7 per cent of the total resident work force of 1,928,300 (“No salary increase for part-time workers in 9 years?“, Dec 15,2008).

$1,200 in 2007 is $1,518 now after inflation?

After adjusting for inflation of about 26.5 per cent from June 2007 to June 2015 (CPI 99.67 divided by 78.778) – the equivalent of $1,200 in 2007 is $1,518 now.

$1,200 in 2007 is $1,838 now after inflation + 3% pay increase?

However, the above analysis is on the basis that there was no pay increase at all in the last seven years or so. If we assume a pay increase of say three per cent per year – $1,200 in 2007 would be about $1,838 now.

Less than $36 pay increase per year?

Let us not forget that in absolute terms – even a three per cent increase per year is only less than $36 monthly per year for such lower-income workers.

550,000 earn less than $1,838?

Since there are another 203,900 residents earning between $1,500 to $1,999 – I estimate the number earning less than $1,838 to be about 550,000 or about 26 per cent of the workforce (550,000 divided by 2.1m).

More lower-income workers worse off than 8 years ago? 

So, do we have even more lower-income workers (about 26 per cent of the workforce) who may not be better off now compared to eight years ago (25.7 per cent of the workforce)?

Higher inflation for the lower-income? 

Moreover, as I understand that inflation for the lower-income has historically, generally been higher than inflation for the general population – the situation analysed above may be even worse for the lower-income.

Even more than 550,000?

Or to put it another way – there may be even more than 550,000 workers who may be worse off. compared to eight years ago.

What are your thoughts on this?

No minimum wage?

By the way, we still do not have a minimum wage and there are still workers getting as little as $5 an hour!

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