Why no statistics on the no. of low-wage workers with no wage increase?


Is 1 in 13 full-time workers still earning below $1,200 something to be proud of? 

I refer to the Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) Report on Wage Practices 2017 released on 30 May.

It states that “More establishments raised their employee’s wages in 2017 (65%) compared to 2016 (58%). The proportion of establishments that cut total wages fell, from 17% in 2016 to 12% in 2017. As a result, the proportion of employees who received a wage increase also rose from 75% to 78%. The average wage increase for this group of employees was higher in 2017 (5.1%) compared to 2016 (4.9%). The proportion of employees who received wage cuts decreased from 13% in 2016 to 10% in 2017. The average wage cut for them was lower in 2017 (-3.9%) compared to 2016 (-5.0%).”

So, does it mean that the proportion of employees who had a wage cut or no wage increase was 22% (10% cuts and 12% no change)?

As to “62% of establishments with low-wage employees earning a monthly basic wage of up to $1,200 granted wage increases to these employees in 2017, up from 40% in 20161 . Among establishments with outsourced employees earning up to $1,200, 55% granted wage increases to these workers. The remaining 45% of establishments did not grant wage increments as they were constrained by contractual agreements, felt they were already paying market rates, or were not performing well” – isn’t it bad enough to earn less than $1,200 – and yet the proportion of establishments that did not grant any wage increase was 38% and 45% for employees and contract workers, respectively.

Also, why is there no mention of the statistics as to the proportion of employees (not just establishments) who had no wage increase – since these statistics are given for employees (including  low-wage employees) in the same subject report?

Don’t you find it sad and rather alarming that “the proportion of full-time resident employees (excluding part-time workers) earning a basic monthly wage of up to $1,200 (2017/2018’s recommended threshold) is estimated to have decreased from 8.1% in 2016 to 7.7% in 2017” – that about 1 in 13 full-time employed residents are still earning below $1,200 in the most expensive city in the world for the fifth consecutive year, according to The Economist?

To what extent is “The basic wage increase for low-wage employees (8.9%) and outsourced low-wage workers (7.5%) continued to be higher than all rank-and-file workers in these establishments (5.4%)” – due to the change from “For employees earning up to $1,100 in basic wage in 2016” to “For employees earning up to $1,200 in basic wage in 2017”?

With regard to “The proportion of profitable establishments continued to decline from 76% in 2016 to 75% in 2017. However, the pace of decline has slowed compared to the previous three years” – why has the proportion of  profitable establishments continued to decline, since economic growth increased from 2.4% in 2016 to 3.6% in 2017?

Why is it that the proportion of profitable establishments has been gradually declining from 85.1% in 2010 to 75% in 2017?

Also, why is it that the proportion of establishments with incurred losses has also been increasing gradually from 15.1% in 2007 to 25.1% in 2017?

Similarly, the employee coverage of profitable establishments has also been declining gradually from 90.6% in 2007 to 87.1% in 2017.

Since “Bonus payments were 2.14 months of basic wage in 2017, compared with 2.16 months in 2016” – to what extent (if any) did longer work hours (if any) or longer/higher overtime pay (if any), contribute to the total wage increase?

Leong Sze Hian





About the Author

Leong Sze Hian has served as the president of 4 professional bodies, honorary consul of 2 countries, an alumnus of Harvard University, authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been a radio talkshow host, a newspaper daily columnist, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for theonlinecitizen and Malaysiakini, executive producer of Ilo Ilo (40 international awards), Hotel Mumbai (associate producer), invited to speak more than 200 times in about 40 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of 2 countries. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.