In our society, we do not really disclose our monthly income. It also seems rather impolite to be asking how much one is earning. I myself felt uncomfortable revealing my monthly earnings in fear that my peers would start making comparisons. But at the same time, I wanted to know if I was being fairly paid and it is worth staying in a particular job. Now that I am jobless, I am even more curious about how much others are earning on a monthly basis. You too, right?
Let’s look at the stats.
Thankfully, we have websites like Glassdoor which will reveal the salary range for each occupation. There are also other reliable sources like the Singapore Yearbook of Manpower statistics 2020, where we can retrieve accurate information from. The Yearbook, compiled by Ministry of Manpower (MOM), shows the average income of Singaporeans and even the labour turnover, and retrenchment numbers. Yes, all the figures are published on the website and presented in excel sheets.
Guess what is the median gross monthly average income of a Singapore resident (aged above 15) in 2019? It’s SGD 4,563 a month, including employer CPF. But do Singaporeans really earn around $4,500 a month?
Is $4.5k too little or too much?
$4,500 a month is quite a substantial amount. I would say that if you’re earning this amount, life is probably quite comfortable for you especially if you’re young, single and still living with your parents. Minus the employer CPF, your take-home pay is probably about $3,700. Your monthly expenses probably would not go beyond $1000 (unless you’re a big spendthrift). Thus, you’ll have at least a thousand dollars of savings left for saving. That’s a decent amount.
This income figure may not be accurate.
So is it suffice to say that if you are earning less than $4,500 a month, you’re probably not earning enough compared to other Singaporeans? I don’t think so. I don’t think it’s accurate to say that the average Singaporean earns $4,500 a month because your income depends a lot on your age, experiences and qualifications. Thus it is also not fair to say that most Singaporeans are earning $4,500 a month. In fact, a lot of jobs available in the market are paying less than $4,500 a month.
So, how much do Singaporeans earn, really?
While I was job hunting, I came across myCareersFuture, government job portal that discloses the salary range for each particular job posting. Most job portal sites don’t usually publish salary information and employers themselves are not very keen in sharing those figures either. Is it just a society thing on our perception of money or what?
I personally was hoping to change industry and dive right into digital marketing. But I was surprise to discover that some companies are only paying their marketing executives between $2000 to $3000. That’s equivalent to the pay of many other service jobs like kindergarten teachers, waiters, bus drivers and shop attendants. Or perhaps these companies are just looking for someone fresh out of school? Not to mention that some of these below-average paying jobs also demands for experiences and certain number of specific skillsets.
It is not easy looking for a job these days. Earning $2k a month is like living on the edge in Singapore and especially if you have children to feed. Prices have inflated but our wages are not increasing along. Does the progressive wage model work in this day and era?
Can anything be done about this?
If most of the jobs are only offering $2k to $3k, shouldn’t the average monthly earnings of a Singaporean be around there as well? Or could the income gap be widening each year to the extent the median income figures by MOM is somewhat skewed? Are there even any regulations when it comes to salaries offered by companies? This also begs the question if there is a need for a fair minimum wage for all employees.
With COVID-19 and digitalisation, the job landscape has made a 360-degree turn. Some jobs will be eradicated and new jobs will be created. And more people will turn to entrepreneurship and start businesses on their own, without having to work for anyone else just to earn a living.
Food for thought
Are you fairly paid? Do you think that it is important to publish the salary along with the job description and requirements? Let me know in the comment section below.
Should I take up the $2k to $3k job?