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Real wages already adjusted for prices

13 Aug 2013

The article “MPs cheer push to narrow inequality” (ST, Aug 9), quoted sociologist Dr Vincent Chua as saying that prices in Singapore “have gone up faster than real wages”. The statement  unfortunately confused real wages with nominal wages. Real wages are already adjusted for prices.

The majority of workers and households have seen their real incomes grow in the last five years.  The median Singaporean worker experienced real wage growth of about 9 per cent from 2007 to 2012.

This estimate of real wage growth is after deducting ‘All-Items CPI’ inflation from nominal wage growth. This includes costs of imputed rentals on owner-occupied homes, which are not actual  expenditures. Using another measure of inflation that excludes these imputed rentals, real income growth was stronger at 13 per cent. 

On a household basis, real incomes went up more significantly, because higher incomes for individual workers were accompanied by more members of households being employed. Monthly household income from work per household member increased by 14 per cent over the five years, for the median household.  Excluding imputed rentals on owner-occupied homes, real incomes in fact rose by 19 per cent  -  for both median households and lower-income households at the 20th percentile of the income ladder. 

Lim Bee Khim (Ms)
Director, Corporate Communications
Ministry of Finance