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Singapore real household income in 2020 fell for first time in over 10 years

Staff Writer, Singapore
·Editorial Team
·2-min read
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SINGAPORE — Singapore’s overall median household income in 2020 fell for the first time in more than a decade ago, due to the impact from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The median monthly household income from work fell by 2.5 per cent in nominal terms to S$9,189 last year from S$9,425 in 2019, the Department of Statistics (DOS) said on Monday (8 February) in its yearly “Key Household Income Trends, 2020” report.

After adjusting for inflation, this works out to a 2.4 per cent drop in real terms. The last decline, which was also 2.4 per cent, happened in 2009 after the global financial crisis.

Nevertheless, median monthly household income from work of resident employed households –comprising citizens and permanent residents with at least one working person – rose over the last five years by 5.2 per cent cumulatively, or 1.0 per cent per annum in real terms.

Median monthly household income from work per household member dropped to S$2,886 last year from S$2,925 in 2019. This marks a decline of 1.3 per cent in nominal terms or 1.2 per cent in real terms. From 2015 to 2020, the median income per household member grew by 14.6 per cent cumulatively, or 2.8 per cent per annum in real terms.

The report found that lower income households were the hardest hit, with those in the bottom 10 per cent seeing a 6.1 per cent real decline in income. In contrast, households in the top 90 per cent income groups recorded real income declines of 1.4 to 3.2 per cent.

Government transfers and taxes significantly reduced the Gini coefficient to 0.375 from 0.452 in 2020, larger than the reduction to 0.398 from 0.452 in 2019. The Gini coefficient measures income inequality from 0 to 1, with 0 being most equal.

The reduction arose from the significant amount of government support provided during the COVID-19 crisis last year, especially for households staying in the smaller HDB flats, the DOS said.

Resident households, including those with no working persons, received S$6,308 per household member on average from various government schemes last year, higher than the S$4,684 received in 2019, the DOS added.

In particular, resident households in HDB 1-room and 2-room flats received S$13,670 per household member on average, almost double the transfers received by resident households in HDB 3-room flats.

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