Tagged: Degree Census Consultancy

Are Singaporeans More Ambitious To Want Higher Pay?

(Note: this article was written last week.)

jobsDB had conducted the Asian Consumer Market Survey which it said, “has found that workers in Singapore are becoming more ambitious and seeking out new, higher paying job roles, even in their later years”.

I am not sure if it is entirely accurate to suggest that workers in Singapore “are becoming more ambitious”.

According to the jobsDB, “42% of workers in Singapore are seeking positions with a salary between 1,500 to 3,499 SGD” (Chart 1).

42% of workers in Singapore are seeking positions with a salary between 1,500 to 3,499 SGD

Chart 1

In an article that I had written last week, I estimated that a Singaporean who is single would need to earn a starting pay of at least $2,000 in order to be able have a basic standard of living in Singapore. For a family of four, each parent would need to earn a starting pay of at least $3,500 in order to do so.

As such, in this light, it is not “more ambitious” for workers in Singapore to seek positions which pay them between $1,500 to $3,499, but is entirely reasonable. It is no wonder that in the same survey, it was reported by the Today newspaperthat, “77 per cent of respondents would look to move jobs to ‘secure a higher income.”

Mirroring another survey that was conducted by The Straits Times and Degree Census Consultancy last Saturday where workers “associate a good job … work-life balance,” “work/life balance” was rated as extremely to highly important by 83% of respondents when looking for a prospective employer.

However, as mentioned in a previous article, Singaporeans work the longest hours in the developed world (Chart 2), which thus put paid to their hopes that they would be able to find a job that would allow them to have good work-life balance.

Singapore works longest hours

Chart 2

jobsDB had also said that, “In Singapore, we’ve noticed the developing trend around the demand for higher paying job roles amongst the older age range, which leads us to believe that Singapore workers are not wholly satisfied with their current role and salary and are looking for change in the lead up to their impending retirement.”

Again, this is also reasonable because according to the Ministry of Manpower, the wages of high and upper-middle income earners start to stagnate after they turn 40, while that of low and lower-middle income earners start to drop past 40 years of age (Chart 3).

Incomes Of Low Income Earners Drop Over Lifetime

Chart 3

As such, it is understandable why workers in the “older age range” would look for “higher paying job roles”.

Yesterday, the Today newspaper reported that, “the Government will be announcing measures “soon” to help the pioneer generation of Singaporeans who were unable to reap the full benefits of Singapore’s economic rise during their working life.” Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam had also “noted this group of Singaporeans did not manage to accumulate much savings in their Central Provident Fund because their salaries were relatively low,” and that, “now when they retire, they find the cost of living is high.” He reiterated that, “Now we will defend them as they retire and as they grow older … We owe it to them and we want to do something special for this group of Singaporeans.”

Today reported that the Tanjong Pagar GRC Member of Parliament (MP) Chia Shi-Lu, who sits on the Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) for Health had suggested that possible announcements could be “a more streamlined process for older Singaporeans to receive assistance for healthcare costs” and that “the Ministry of Health is looking into greater differentiation between help with healthcare costs for the pioneer generation vis a vis other Singaporeans.”

This would be a welcomed move. However, bolder steps would also need to be taken to alleviate their state of poverty. Mr Tharman had said that older Singaporeans, “did not manage to accumulate much savings in their Central Provident Fund (CPF) because their salaries were relatively low”. As such, the interest rates for their CPF should be increased to allow them to accumulate more savings. The Medishield and Medisave coverage should also be widened to cater for them. Finally, their salaries should also be increased.

According to the CPF Board, there are currently nearly 40% of Singaporeans who earn less than $2,ooo (Figure 4). If a Singaporean would require a starting pay of at least $2,000 to earn a basic standard of living, there would be nearly 40% of Singaporeans who would not be able to do so.

Slide3

Chart 4

In another report, also by jobsDB, it was shown that after a minimum wage law was implemented in Hong Kong in 2011, ‘most of employers claimed minimum wage has no effect on benefits, bonus / double pay and no. of staff.” In fact, “42% of the companies increased salary adjustment after the introduction of minimum wage,” which benefitted workers. Also, only “36% of the companies increased product /service price (Chart 5)”.

HK Minimum Wage Impact

Chart 5

It was also reported by The Huffington Post that, “low-wage workers spend more when the minimum wage is raised, according to a 2011 study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago (which) … in turn boosts the economy and job growth, according to the Economic Policy Institute.” Also, “a number of studies have found that raising the minimum wage does not reduce total employment by a meaningful amount.” Moreover, “prices apparently don’t rise in response to minimum wage hikes”.

As such, a minimum wage law not only has benefits for the economy, but would also allow more workers to have a better standard of living.

I look forward to the announcements that are expected to be made by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the National Day Rally 2013 evening of Sunday, 18 August 2013.

Dynamic approaches towards shaping a more livable landscape for Singaporeans to be taken by the government. Any less would fall below the expectations of Singaporeans. But nonetheless, any action that is taken to alleviate poverty and improve the living standards of Singaporeans, especially for the poor and elderly, would be welcomed.

Roy Ngerng, author of The Heart Truths

I had written this article for the We The Citizens Of Singapore citizenry journalism website. The article was initially published at this link here

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41% of Singaporeans Feel Job Prospects for Next Generation Will Be Worse

I had written this article for the We The Citizens Of Singapore citizenry journalism website. The article was initially published at this link here

The Straits Times had reported on 3 August 2013, in the article titled, “6 in 10 Singaporeans feel they have good jobs: Survey“, that, “six in 10 people (say that) their jobs are good” (Chart 1).

photo 1

Chart 1

According to The Straits Times, the respondents to the survey “associate a good job with (1) pay and benefits, (2) work-life balance, (3) good bosses and colleagues, and (4) career advancement.”

The Straits Times’ survey was conducted by Degree Census Consultancy from 20 June to 2 July. I was unable to locate more information about the survey or its methodology on their website.

However, if we were to look deeper into the definition of a good job, in terms of the first descriptor on the pay and benefits, I had written previously that a Singaporean who is single would need to earn a starting pay of at least $2,000 every month in order to have a basic standard of living in Singapore. For a family of four, each parent would need to earn a starting pay of at least $3,500 every month in order to do so. According to the CPF Board, 64% of Singaporeans earn less than $3,500 in Singapore (Chart 2). Thus looking at the statistics, would 64% of Singaporeans not have a good job, if we look at it in terms of pay and benefits?

Slide1

Chart 2

Next, if we were to look at the second description of a good job – work-life balance, Singaporeans actually works the longest hours in the developed world (Chart 3), according to the International Labour Organisation. Thus in terms of work-life balance, it might seem that Singaporeans do not have a good job as well.

Singapore works longest hours

Chart 3

Finally, if we were to look at the last description of a good job of career advancement, according to the Ministry of Manpower, for middle-income earners, their wages will stagnate after they reach 40 years of age and for low-income earners, their wages will actually drop (Chart 4). So, for the 64% of Singaporeans who are earning less than $3,500, this would mean that they do not have a good job, by this definition.

Incomes Of Low Income Earners Drop Over Lifetime

Chart 4

The Straits Times had reported on the respondents’ self-reported perceptions of the goodness of their job. However, the actual measured reality of the survey descriptors of a “good job” might paint a less favourable picture.

Even though The Straits Times had reported that 63% of Singapore residents think that they have a good job, the statistics show that by the same definition, 64% would actually not be having a good job and only 36% of Singaporeans can be considered as having a good job – it is the other way round.

Perhaps a more reflective result would be the next question that The Straits Times had reported. When asked about “job prospects of the next generation”, 40% had believed that prospects would be better or much better whereas 41% believed that they would be worse or much worse (Chart 5).

photo 2

Chart 5

This brings to mind another set of statistics that I had come across. As mentioned, according to the CPF Board, 37% of Singaporeans earn less than $2,000 every month, while 36% of Singaporeans earn more than $3,500 every month. If we put this into a chart, Chart 6 would be what you would get.

60% Of You Think You Have A Good Job Really

Chart 6

The breakdown in Chart 6 actually looks very similar to Chart 5. Could it be that the perception of the job prospects of the next generation is also weighed in by the current wages that Singaporeans are receiving as well? Are future job prospects a reflection of the wage sufficiency that an individual would require in order to have a basic standard of living in Singapore? If so, do 41% of the respondents believe that they would not be able to have a basic standard of living in Singapore, and thus believe that job prospects would be worse or much worse?

The Straits Times had reported that “there are as many pessimists as there are optimists among the 501 surveyed”.

Again, this brings to mind another survey that was recently conducted the Gallup. On 18 July, Gallup reported that Singapore was the 10th most pessimistic country in the world, among 141 countries. 24% of Singaporeans were pessimistic about the “about the direction of their lives” (Chart 7). In the survey reported by The Straits Times, 41% were pessimistic about job prospects of the next generation. It seems that the survey conducted by The Straits Times does lend credence to the Gallup survey that Singaporeans are pessimistic about their “future lives”.

Most Pessimistic Countries in 2012

Chart 7

This also comes after surveys conducted by the Gallup which had also ranked Singaporeans as the most unhappy (Chart 8) and the most emotionless (Chart 9) people in the world.

Lowest Positive Emotions Worldwide

Chart 8

Most Emotionless Societies

Chart 9

These surveys of Singaporeans’ disfranchisement with the state of Singapore are a reflection of the unease that they feel in their livelihoods and their ability to live a good life.

If we are to look deeper into the statistics, it is clear that income inequality is on the rise and the self-sufficiency of Singaporeans to live even a basic standard of living is being called into question.

As such, it would be wise for our policymakers to look at reforming key policy areas so as to bring Singapore back into parity. One of the key policy areas to reform would be to uplift the wages of lower-income groups, by implementing a minimum wage law, or to increase significantly the income transfers to the lower-income groups. Another policy area to look at would be to reduce the number of work hours to allow Singaporeans to achieve better work-life balance.

The recent surveys which has illustrated Singaporeans’ disfranchisement and their consistency is a reflection of Singaporeans’ distrust and lack of confidence in the current direction of Singapore’s policies. It would be wise if our policymakers were to take these survey results seriously and act accordingly to respond to Singaporeans’ needs.

Singapore is clearly at a turning point in our country’s history. The income inequality and the rich-poor wage gap has increased so drastically that it has reached saturation point. If the disparities are allowed to continue, there can be serious consequences to the stability of our society.

It would be pertinent for our policymakers to relook their planning fundamentals, to shift into adopting principles of equality, so that Singapore can introduce policies which can stabilise our society that the societal rifts are threatening to destabilise due to the tensions that the financial disparities are creating.

Roy Ngerng, author of The Heart Truths

*****

YOU CAN ALSO SEND YOUR COMMENTARY TO WE THE CITIZENS OF SINGAPORE.

You can also send your thoughts on any issue that matter to you.

Send in your commentary with your name (or pseudonym), age and gender to:

  1. Our email at email to us at wtcosg@gmail.com, or
  2. Our Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/WeTheCitizensOfSingapore

You can read more about the commentary guidelines here.