Incomes up, more younger and older workers employed

Median income of locals working full-time up 4.8% from a year earlier as economy grows

Singapore's economy is expected to grow by 3 per cent to 3.5 per cent this year, said the Ministry of Manpower. PHOTO: ST FILE

Local workers are earning more, with the median income of those working full-time rising to $4,437 in June this year.

This is up 4.8 per cent from the median gross monthly income of $4,232 a year earlier, and includes employer contributions to the Central Provident Fund.

The latest data from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Singaporeans and permanent residents also shows that a greater share of younger and older people were employed this year, with the labour market improving as economic growth picked up.

The unemployment rates for resident workers also dipped slightly as of June this year, compared with June last year.

These improvements are in line with good economic growth, MOM said yesterday. Singapore's economy is expected to grow by 3 per cent to 3.5 per cent this year.

Workers saw their incomes growing faster in the last five years than in the preceding five-year period.

The real median gross monthly income of residents in full-time jobs grew by an average of 3.5 per cent per year from 2013 to 2018, taking preliminary inflation figures into account for this year. It grew by an average of 1.9 per cent per year from 2008 to 2013.

Lower-wage workers saw their gross monthly incomes rise at a faster pace than those at the median. Over the past five years, the income at the 20th percentile of residents in full-time jobs rose by an average of 4.2 per cent per year, to $2,340 in 2018.

But economists said the strong wage growth this year may not continue into next year as economic growth is expected to moderate.

"With a trade war, I wouldn't be surprised if there are companies in finance or trade-related sectors that have to start cutting headcount," said Maybank Kim Eng senior economist Chua Hak Bin.

Meanwhile, the employment rate this year for residents aged 15 to 24 rose to 34.5 per cent, up from 34.1 per cent last year, as more young people took on paid internships or vacation jobs. The rate for those aged 65 and over rose to 26.8 per cent, up from 25.8 per cent, due to efforts to improve the employability of older workers, said MOM.

But for those aged between 25 and 64 years, the employment rate fell from 80.7 per cent to 80.3 per cent as more women in their 30s stayed outside the labour force to care for their families.

Unemployment figures improved. For professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs), the unemployment rate was 2.9 per cent in June, compared with 3 per cent a year earlier. For non-PMETs, the rate was 4 per cent, down from 4.5 per cent. PMETs make up 57 per cent of the resident workforce.

However, more unemployed PMETs in their 30s and those aged 50 and up took a longer time to find work. This raised the long-term unemployment rate for PMETs - those jobless and looking for work for at least 25 weeks - to 0.8 per cent this year, up from 0.7 per cent last year.

Also, a larger share of workers were on contract jobs. The share of workers in permanent jobs went down for the second consecutive year to 89 per cent this year, from 90 per cent last year.

MOM said this is because ongoing economic restructuring prompted companies to adopt a more near-term outlook, with much of the increase in contract employees seen among those on one-year contracts.

An ageing population and slower population growth could moderate growth of the supply of resident workers. It called on businesses to invest in their workers.

On its part, MOM said it would work with stakeholders to address jobs-skills mismatches, enable older workers to find jobs and match Singaporeans to good careers.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 30, 2018, with the headline Incomes up, more younger and older workers employed. Subscribe