The median Singaporean worker has seen “significant real income growth” in the last five years – a “really quite unusual” performance when most other countries have seen little or even negative income growth, said Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam.
Since 2010, after the global financial crisis, the median household income in Singapore has grown by 18 per cent in real terms – that is, after adjusting for the increase in the cost of living, he noted at a walkabout at Taman Jurong on Sunday (Sep 3) evening.
“We’ve seen very unusual sustained income growth in real terms, not just for the people at the top, but for the middle class – and in fact, the households in the low-income group have seen slightly faster real income growth than those in the middle,” he said.
“This isn’t some statistics we wish for, this is hard data.”
In recent days of election campaigning, various opposition candidates have spoken about stagnating wages in the face of inflation, and the need to institute a minimum wage and redistribute resources.
But the fact is that real incomes have risen, according to Mr Tharman, who is also the Finance Minister. “To realise how unusual that is, you must understand that we operate in a world where very few countries have seen real wage growth in the middle”, despite generally low inflation, he said.
“In the advanced countries – the United States, Europe, Japan – there has been negative real income growth … Taiwan has seen negative real income growth, Hong Kong basically flat, a very small increase in income growth far less than our 18 per cent,” he said.