Income growth has been broad-based for several years

Office workers in Singapore's central business district, on Feb 14, 2019.
Office workers in Singapore's central business district, on Feb 14, 2019.PHOTO: ST FILE

Forum contributor Isaac Neo Yi Chong was mistaken in asserting middle-class incomes had stagnated in Singapore and that the real wages of the lower income had declined (Growing pie does not mean bigger slices for all, June 22).

Income growth in Singapore has been broad-based for several years, including the last decade.

Real incomes in the bottom 20 per cent of resident employed households grew by 3.1 per cent per annum on average over the last 10 years (2008 to 2018), on a per household member basis.

For households in the middle quintile, income growth per member was 3 per cent per annum on average.

In both cases, incomes grew a little faster than the income growth of the top 20 per cent (2.5 per cent per annum).

Income growth has also been broad-based for individual wages. Real median incomes from work of full-time employed residents grew by 2.7 per cent per annum over the last 10 years.

Real income growth for the 20th percentile was 2.9 per cent per annum over the same period. The data on these trends is published regularly.

Mr Neo is correct that economic growth has not necessarily translated into income growth for the lower-and middle-income groups in other advanced economies.

We have achieved broad-based income growth to date, but this has required continuous effort by all - the Government in implementing polices to support a competitive economy and in designing effective programmes to help citizens; employers in transforming jobs and investing in their people; unions supporting workers in upgrading their skills; and individuals and families themselves.

Sandra Lim

Deputy Director (Income and Expenditure Division)

Department of Statistics

Ang Boon Heng

Director (Manpower Research and Statistics Department)

Ministry of Manpower

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 26, 2019, with the headline 'Income growth has been broad-based for several years'. Print Edition | Subscribe