ECONOMICS: Singapore labor
Far Eastern Economic Review
June 18, 1998
Out of Pocket
* By Salil Tripathi
Do infrastructure projects support the economy through bad times? Only
partly. They don't do much for employees in service industries, as
Singapore's recent experience appears to show.
Average monthly salaries -- excluding overtime and bonuses --
Singapore fell to S$2,553 ($1,496) in the first quarter, a drop of 9.8%
from the last quarter of 1997.
The pattern of decline extended across most of the city-state's
wage-earners except for those in construction, where a continuing
infrastructure programme, including a waterfront arts centre and an
extension of the mass transit system, has kept wages buoyant.
The numbers reflect several broad trends in the labour market.
Unemployment has risen (though so far only slightly, to 2.2%) as more
people have been laid off. Vacancies, meanwhile, are becoming scarcer
and people are taking longer to find work. Meanwhile, the National Wage
Council has urged maximum restraint on salary increases.