Incomes of S'pore residents rose above pre-Covid-19 levels though moderated by higher inflation: MOM

Incomes of S'pore residents rose above pre-Covid-19 levels though moderated by higher inflation: MOM

Those earning less also saw their incomes recovering to levels before the pandemic hit.

SINGAPORE – The incomes of Singapore residents rose above pre-Covid-19 levels this year, rebounding from last year when it took a hit for the first time in 16 years because of the pandemic.

The nominal median income of residents – Singaporeans and permanent residents – grew by 3.2 per cent to $4,680 in June this year, up from $4,534 in June 2020, according to advance estimates released by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Wednesday (Dec 1). This is after it dipped by 0.6 per cent last year.

After taking inflation into account, the growth in real median income was smaller at 1.1 per cent, a reversal from the 0.4 per cent decline the previous year, the ministry said in its annual report. The income data is for people in full-time employment and includes employer CPF contributions.

Those earning less also saw their incomes recovering to levels before the pandemic hit.

Real income of full-timers at the 20th percentile income bracket rose by 4.6 per cent, not including government payouts. MOM noted that if government payouts to lower-income workers are considered, such as the Workfare Income

Supplement, the income at the 20th percentile this year surpassed its pre-Covid level by 0.6 per cent.

Over a five-year period from 2016 to this year, the real income growth of lower-wage workers “remained strong, enabling them to continue to gain ground on median incomes”, the ministry highlighted in its report, which is based on mid-year data.

Bolstered by efforts such as the Progressive Wage Model to improve their salaries, the real income growth of full-timers at the 20th percentile was 2.8 per cent per year, higher than the median of 2.2 per cent per year.

Overall, the labour market gradually recovered this year, although it has not fully returned to conditions before the pandemic, MOM noted.

“We expect the labour market recovery to continue in the second half of the year and into 2022, but in an uneven manner across sectors.”

While resident unemployment rates have improved over the year, they remain elevated.

The unemployment rate for resident professionals, managers, executives & technicians (PMETs) edged down slightly to 3.4 per cent in June, from 3.5 per cent a year earlier. For resident non-PMETs, the rate improved to 5.1 per cent, from 6.4 per cent.

In addition, the resident long-term unemployment rates, which look at those who have been unemployed for 25 weeks or more, held steady at 0.8 per cent for PMETs and 0.9 per cent for non-PMETs after increasing last year.

MOM said this elevated long-term unemployment rate compared to before the pandemic suggests that some workers who were displaced faced challenges in their job search.

Meanwhile, the employment rate rose across various groups, with MOM attributing it to the economic recovery and support measures such as the SGUnited Jobs and Skills package, Jobs Support Scheme and Jobs Growth Incentive.

The overall employment rate for residents aged 15 and above rose to 67.2 per cent in June, up from 64.5 per cent a year earlier, according to the report.

A further breakdown showed that the employment rate of youth aged 15 to 24 jumped from 30.9 per cent to 37.2 per cent over the same period. This was mainly due to more students taking on part-time or temporary work on the side, said MOM.

For residents aged 25 to 64, the employment rate grew to 81.8 per cent in June, from 80.3 per cent the year before. At the same time, the rate of seniors aged 65 and above rose to 31.7 per cent, up from 28.5 last year.

MOM said 88 per cent of resident employees were in permanent roles.

An increase in demand for temporary manpower for Covid-19-related activities and economic uncertainty led to a new high in the share of those on fixed-term contracts at 8.4 per cent. This was an increase from 7.3 per cent, and driven by increases among residents on contracts of less than one year.

However, the number of residents on permanent employment also grew by 50,900, said MOM.

In its report, the ministry also highlighted how full-timers work less hours per week compared to a decade ago. Full-time workers worked 45 hours a week this year, compared to 49.2 hours a week in 2010.

MOM said its focus now is on “preserving human capital and developing local workers through skills upgrading, while working with employers to redesign job roles for the future.

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