Salaries in Singapore seen to rise 3.9% next year: Study

Many employees can look forward to modest pay increases of around 3.9 per cent next year - but that is before inflation takes its cut - according to a new study yesterday.

It noted that most industries will get the increases, except the life insurance, Internet, real estate, banking and logistics sectors.

Staff in legal, finance, and research and development roles in Singapore will see the biggest pay rises, according to the study by human resources firm Mercer, which looked at salaries across the region.

This year, it was executives in the chemical, life sciences and consumer goods industries that reaped the most increases.

The Mercer report said: "Even with the rebound in exports, with recent multilateral trade agreements, we do not expect a significant impact on wage growth in 2018. Positive signals of revival from the semiconductor and biotechnology sector imply that specialist engineering and sales talent will be in demand.

Singapore's working-age population is projected to stagnate before the end of this decade and like many other advanced economies, it faces the challenge of lifting productivity to sustain growth in gross domestic product.

The report said that despite these issues, world-class infrastructure, strong regulation and a sound track record of planning mean it remains a highly competitive economy.

Consultancy IMA Asia said annual GDP growth is expected to ease to 2.5 per cent to 3 per cent in the period from next year to 2022, in line with the Government's expectations, but far from the high of 4.7 per cent a year in the decade leading up to last year.

Mr Kulapalee Tobing, Mercer's Singapore career products leader, said: "Companies are looking to both reskill existing talent pools as well as hire for different skillsets even when hiring for replacement roles.

"The focus on restructuring the economy and raising productivity by the Government has meant a sharp focus on continuous learning."

The highest pay rises in Asia next year are forecast for Bangladesh (10 per cent), India (9.8 per cent) and Vietnam (9.1 per cent), while pay in Hong Kong is forecast to rise 3.9 per cent, as in Singapore. Japan could have the lowest at 2 per cent, followed by New Zealand and Australia at 3 per cent.

Notably, real wage growth - salary increase minus inflation - has been steadily rising, often reaching double digits in emerging markets. And while forecasts vary quite widely across specific industries, the strongest push is likely to come from the chemical and life sciences industries, said Mercer.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 30, 2017, with the headline 'Salaries in Singapore seen to rise 3.9% next year: Study'. Print Edition | Subscribe