Half the 1.99 million working Singaporeans and permanent residents earn less than $2600. And the majority of workers who found new jobs this year were hired on contracts for less than three months.
Consider yourself better off if you earn more than 2,600 Singapore dollars ($1,880) a month. For half the 1.99 million working Singaporeans and permanent residents earn less than that. And the majority of workers who found new jobs this year were hired on contracts for less than three months.
Let me quote from the Ministry of Manpower's Singapore Workforce, 2009 report released today:
Amid the global recession, the proportion of residents aged 25 to 64 in employment fell for the first time in six years to 75.8% in June 2009 from the peak of 77.0% a year ago. This mainly reflected the decline in employment rate for residents in the prime-working age group of 25 to 54 from 81.4% to 80.1%…
There were 5.9% or 116,300 persons (non-seasonally adjusted) in the resident labour force who were unemployed in June 2009, significantly higher than 4.0% or 76,200 a year ago.
The rise was felt across all occupations and industries. The unemployment rate increased over the year from 4.3% to 7.1% for production & related workers; sharper than the increase from 5.8% to 7.6% for clerical, sales & service workers; and 2.5% to 3.9% for professionals, managers, executives & technicians.
The report says:
Even though it had decreased, the employment rate for prime-working age men in Singapore remained higher than in many developed and Asian economies…
The comparison with developed economies is not quite appropriate. For the unemployed in welfare states can seek social security. So they may register themselves as unemployed. That's not the case in Singapore.
Still, the government has done good work, saving as many jobs as possible by helping companies pay their workers through the jobs credit programme. More people might have lost their jobs if the government had not helped companies make payroll.
Most new jobs for less than three months
But that does not alter the fact that the labour market has become more uncertain.
Most of the new jobs created are not only temporary --- but for less than three months. It's all there in the ministry report:
The number of resident employees on term contracts rose 4.3% to 197,200 in 2009, faster than the 0.8% increase in permanent employees. Consequently, the share of resident employees on term contracts rose from 12.4% in 2008 to 12.7% in 2009, continuing the uptrend observed since the data were first collected in 2006. The growth in 2009 was mainly driven by those on short-term contracts of less than three months (including casual/on-call workers), reflecting economic uncertainty.
The median income for part-time workers is 620 Singapore dollars a month while the median income for full-time workers has gone up from SGD2,590 in June 2008 to SGD2,600 in June 2009 – by 10 Singapore dollars, despite the recession.
There is growing economic disparity. I wrote in a post two months ago:
Nowhere in the world are you more likely to run into a millionaire than in Singapore. But the great majority of households in the city-state earn less than Singapore's average household income…
Singapore had the highest concentration of millionaires last year, with 8.5 percent of the country's households owning more than $1 million, reports the Boston Consulting Group. Switzerland was second, with 6.6 percent, followed by Kuwait, 5.1 percent, United Arab Emirates, 4.5 percent, and the United States, 3.5 percent.
Last year, the average monthly household income was 7,090 Singapore dollars (about $5010) for resident households and 7,750 Singapore dollars for employed households, according to a paper published by the Singapore Department of Statistics. Resident households denote Singaporeans and permanent residents and employed households are those where at one least one member is employed.
Incomes were increasing, said the same paper, pointing out:
"In 2007, 33 percent of employed households earned a monthly income of at least 7,000 Singapore dollars. In 2008, 39 percent of employed households earned a monthly income of at least 7,000 Singapore dollars."
But that means 61 percent – or the great majority – earned less than the average household income.
Indeed, the median income – the income of half the households – was considerably less.
The median monthly household income, according to the same paper, was 4,950 Singapore dollars for resident households and 5,480 Singapore dollars for employed households.
Then we learnt the median household income. Now we know the median income too.
Sources and Relevant Links:
Blowin' In The Wind 5.9% Singaporeans jobless, most new jobs are for less than three months 30 November 2009
Blowin' In The Wind In millionaire-rich Singapore, majority income below national average 19 September 2009
Blowin' In The Wind Singapore household net wealth 03 October 2009
Blowin' In The Wind Singaporeans share the worry of hunter-gatherers 05 December 2008
Blowin' In The Wind Housing story shows Singapore downgrading 19 November 2008
Blowin' In The Wind UN report on cities and income gaps 24 October 2008