Singapore’s median household income edges up 0.2% in real terms in 2022, amid high inflation

SINGAPORE’S median monthly household income from work rose by a marginal 0.2 per cent in real terms in 2022 for resident employed households, just keeping ahead of high inflation, according to a Singapore Department of Statistics (Singstat) report on Thursday (Feb 9). This was a sharp slowdown from 2021’s real growth of 1.5 per cent.

But nominal growth was higher at 6.1 per cent, compared to 3.6 per cent in 2021. The median monthly income from work was S$10,099 for resident employed households, up from S$9,520 in 2021.

From 2017 to 2022, median monthly household income from work of resident employed households rose 2.9 per cent cumulatively or 0.6 per cent per annum in real terms.

Growth rates were higher after accounting for household size. The median monthly household income per household member rose to S$3,287, from S$3,027 before – a growth of 8.6 per cent in nominal terms or 2.6 per cent when accounting for inflation.

Only the top tenth of households saw average income per household member fall in real terms, by 1.3 per cent, which Singstat said was partly due to larger household sizes. For the top tenth, average household size grew to 2.34 persons, up from 2.26 persons in 2021, a larger increase than for other deciles.

For all other income deciles, there was real growth in average household income from work per household member. This ranged from 1.1 per cent to 10.1 per cent, with the bottom 10 per cent of households seeing the highest rise in income.

Household income inequality continued to fall in 2022, even before accounting for government transfers and taxes, said the report.

The Gini coefficient, which measures income inequality, dipped to 0.437 last year, from 0.444 in 2021. Zero represents complete income equality and one represents complete inequality.

After taking government transfers and taxes into account, the Gini coefficient decreased to 0.378 last year – less than 0.386 in 2021, and the second-lowest value since 2000. The lowest remains 0.375 in 2020.

Households received more government transfers last year, compared to 2021, Singstat noted. Resident households, including those with no employed person, received S$5,765 per household member on average in 2022, up from the S$5,257 received in 2021.

This was due to one-off and transitionary measures, as well as enhanced schemes, to cushion the impact of the goods and services tax rate increase and higher inflation.

Resident households in Housing and Development Board (HDB) one and two-room flats continued to receive the most government transfers. In 2022, they received S$12,189 per household member on average, nearly double the amount received by resident households in HDB three-room flats.

Household income from work includes Central Provident Fund contributions from employers, while resident employed households are those where the reference person is a Singapore resident and at least one household member is employed.