Due to the tightening of work permit holders, low income Singaporean workers seen a spike in higher wages in 2015. According to the Department of Statistics, the bottom 10th percentile in household income saw a 10.7% income growth – the highest in more than a decade of near-zero growth. Their average income registered a growth of 24.6% between 2010 and 2015 – the highest among all other income group. Compared to the period 2005 and 2010, these low income workers had their wages grew by only 9.6%.

Graph from The Straits Times
Graph from The Straits Times

Singapore saw it’s lowest intake of foreigners in 2015 with a population growth of only 70,000, although 99.7% of the 31,800 new jobs created still go to foreigners.

Another key policy that increased these wages by such a leap is a partial-Minimum Wage policy enforced by the government where the biggest low income industry, cleaners, are mandated to have at least a S$1,000 Minimum Wage.

However, Singapore continue to see a wide income inequality with a GINI coefficient of 0.463. This is higher than the United States (0.40) where income inequality is now a key election issue and the primary source of popularity for the forerunner candidate, Bernie Sanders.

26% of Singapore’s population still earn less than S$1,450, or half of the median income. The Singapore government refuses to set a poverty wage line because the result will affect foreign investors’ confidence in the domestic market.