29 Jun 2006

Poorer S'poreans earned less last year

Thursday • June 29, 2006
Lee U-Wen

Lower-income Singaporeans earned less last year than in 2000, with higher unemployment and smaller wages just two possible reasons for the decline.

Last year's General Household Survey shows the average monthly household income from work dipped to $1,180, or by nearly 20 per cent, for the 11th to 20th percentile of wage earners, and to $2,190, or by about 5 per cent, for those in the 21st to 30th percentile.

This latest survey, conducted once every 10 years by the Department of Statistics, showed that the decline was caused partly by the growing number of homes with retirees and those without any income.

A department statement added that, compared to 2000, last year's higher unemployment and lower salaries could have also contributed to the dip. Homes with jobless family members typically fall into the lower income groups as the overall income generated from work falls when a person loses his job, explained the department.

The figures, however, do not take into account the various monetary handouts by the Government, such as this year's $2.6 billion Progress Package, which were primarily meant to help lower-income residents here.

On the whole, all ethnic groups in Singapore enjoyed a growth in their income levels between 2000 and last year. The monthly household income increased from $5,200 in 2000 to $5,600 last year for the Chinese. For the Malays, it went up from $3,200 to $3,400, while the Indian community saw a rise from $4,600 to $5,200.

Ironically, it was the top 10 per cent of wage earners who enjoyed the largest increase in monthly household income. The average of $16,480 was 14.8 per cent higher than the $14,360 earned by this group in 2000.

The average household monthly income across the board last year was $5,200. After factoring in low inflation, the income increased in real terms between 2000 and last year by 1.1 per cent a year.

Besides income levels, this latest instalment of the household survey focused on Singaporeans' habits when it came to taking public transport, going on vacation and the type of house they resided in. Download the full report from www.singstat.gov.sg.

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