Singapore Real Income Growth Still Below Pre-Covid Era on Prices

(Bloomberg) — Singaporeans are seeing faster growth in their real income this year but the pace hasn’t returned to pre-pandemic levels even after robust adjustments in pay, dragged by inflation near a 14-year high.

Real median wage, which takes inflation into account, increased 2.1% in 2022, faster than 0.9% the previous year but lower than the average growth rate of 3.8% in 2014-2019 when price gains were muted, according to the Ministry of Manpower’s annual Labor Force Report. This even as nominal median income grew 8.3% to S$5,070, up from 3.2% in 2021.

Pay hikes are being eclipsed by rising cost of living, spurred in part by robust demand after the reopening from the pandemic. Inflation remains near the fastest since 2008 and is expected to remain elevated next year. Singaporeans are struggling with rising home prices, with rents jumping almost 24% in the third quarter from a year ago.

Lower-wage workers saw higher pay hikes than the median group, according to the report. Income at the 20th percentile rose 4.8% this year from 4.4% last year.

The labor situation of residents continued to improve as the unemployment rate fell across all occupational groups in 2022, with a higher percentage of Singaporeans working as professionals, managers, executives and technicians.