Skip to main content

Report on Wage Practices in Singapore 2018


  1. As the economy and labour market improved in 2018, more establishments raised the wages of their employees.  As a result, more employees received wage increases.  Total wage continued to grow, and at a faster pace than in 2017, even after accounting for inflation.  Establishments’ practices on wage increases and variable payments were aligned with the 2018/2019 National Wages Council’s (NWC) recommendations.  These are the key findings from the “Report on Wage Practices 2018” released by the Manpower Research and Statistics Department, Ministry of Manpower.

    Main Findings

    Total wage growth was higher than a year ago in most industries.
  2. Total wages (including employer CPF contributions) in the private sector grew by 4.6% in 2018, higher than the 3.8% in 2017.  Real total wage also rose at a faster pace, from 3.2% in 2017 to 4.2% in 2018.
  3. In most industries, total wage growth in 2018 was higher than the previous year, with financial & insurance services and professional services posting the highest growth.  Manufacturing, food & beverage services and retail trade saw similar or moderated wage growth.

    More employees received higher wage increases
  4. As a result of improved profitability1, the proportion of establishments that raised their employees’ total wages in 2018 increased to 67% from 65% in 2017.  The proportion of establishments that cut total wages also fell to 9% in 2018 from 12% in 2017.
  5. Overall, the proportion of employees who received wage increases rose to 81% in 2018 from 78% in 2017.  Their average wage increase was also higher in 2018 (5.8%) compared to 2017 (5.1%).  For employees who received wage cuts, the average wage cut was higher in 2018 (-4.3%) compared to 2017 (-3.9%).  Nonetheless, their proportion among all employees decreased from 10% in 2017 to 8% in 2018.

    Establishments’ wage practices were aligned to NWC’s guidelines
  6. The performance of establishments and individuals were employers’ main considerations when determining wage change or variable payment.  Profitable companies gave higher wage increases and bonuses compared to loss-making ones. 

    More establishments adopted NWC’s recommendations concerning outsourced low-wage employees
  7. The proportion of establishments that adopted the NWC’s quantitative guidelines for low-wage employees performing outsourced work rose to 55% in 2018 from 44% in 2017.2   Although the adoption rate for low-wage employees in general declined from 48% in 2017 to 45% in 2018, the main reason establishments did not give wage increase was poor business conditions.   


  1. Overall, the proportion of profitable establishments that performed as well or better than the previous year increased. The corresponding proportion of employees also rose.
  2. In 2017, low-wage employees refer to those earning up to $1,200. In 2018, this threshold was raised to $1,300. The NWC’s recommended built-in wage increase for these workers was $45 to $60 in 2017 and $50 to $70 in 2018.