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Household incomes up

Income gap here narrows.
By Aaron Low (Straits Times)
Jan 20, 2009

DESPITE the severe impact of inflation, Singaporeans were bettter off last year. Their family income rose across the board.

A key reason for the increase was the buoyant labour market, which saw more people with jobs and drawing higher salaries.

Latest official figures show the average monthly income for all Singapore households went up by about $700 in a year, from $6,300 in 2007 to $7,090 last year.

The group showing top gains is the middle-income household, with incomes of $6,730 a month. Even after inflation was taken into account, their annual income per family member rose the fastest at 5.4 per cent last year, according to an occasional paper released by the Department of Statistics on Tuesday.

The paper is Key Household Income Trends in 2008 .

Worst off are the bottom 20 per cent of household earners, according to the paper on Key Household Income Trends in 2008.

After working in inflation, the bottom 10 per cent earned just 1.9 per cent more last year, while the 10 per cent above it made 2.9 per cent more. But Government help in the form of GST (Goods and Services Tax) credits and Workfare Income supplement helped improve the lot of the lower income.

On average, a person living in one- and two-room HDB flats received about $1,670 from the Government last year. The sum is more than double the $720 given to residents of private property.

The result of the income improvements is a narrowing of the income gap in Singapore, said the Statistics Department.

As a result, the Gini coefficient, which measures income inequality, has dropped from 0.489 in 2007 to 0.481 last year. If Government aid is taken into account, the figure drops further - from 0.479 to 0.462.

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