Census: So many worked so long for so little?

by Leong Sze Hian

I refer to the Census of Populaton 2010 – Statistical Release 3, released on 24 February.

Long work hours

What I find rather surprising is that 228,856 worked between 50 – 54 hours, 73,761 between 55 – 59 hours, 134,716 between 60 –64 hours, and 142,551 65 hours and over.

This mean that 579,884 persons worked at least 50 hours, which is about 31 per cent of all workers.

Why is it that so many people work for such long hours?

Elderly long hours low pay

Another startling statistic is that 4,709 age 65 and above worked 65 hours and over, 2,609 worked 60 – 64 hours, 1,931 worked 55 – 59 hours, and 3,553 worked 50 – 54 hours.

Why is it that so many elderly persons are working such long hours?

For Gross Monthly Income from work below $500, $500 – 999 and $1,000 – 1,499, there were 63,864, 163,064 and 191,315 persons, respectively.

This means that 226,928 persons earned less than $1,000, or about 12 per cent of all resident working persons.

In other words, about 1 in 8 persons earned less than $1,000.

Another startling statistic is that 4,023 persons worked 40 – 44 hours, 1,688 worked 45 –49 hours, 1,329 worked 50 – 54 hours, 849 worked 55 – 59 hours, 1,095 worked 60 – 64 hours, and 2,289 worked 65 hours & over – all of these people for less than $500!

Surely these statistics indicate perhaps that we should review the decision not to have a minimum wage.

Home ownership dropped

Home ownership has dropped from 92 to 87.2 per cent, from 2000 to 2010.

In 2000, about 73,000 households were not owners, and in 2010 there were about 147,000 of such non-ownership households.

Is this an indication of the affordability of HDB flats?

Median household income

The Median Household Income from Work of Chinese, Malays, Indians and others, grew by 6.6, 3.6, 4.6 and 4.3 per cent per annum, respectively, from 2000 to 2010.

The median income from work for Chinese, Malays, Indians and Others, was 5,100, 3,844, 5,370 and 7,432 respectively, in 2010.

Living in 1 & 2-room flats

The percentage of Households Living in 1 & 2-room HDB flats, declined for the Chinese, Indians and Others, from 4.4 to 4.1, 8.1 to 4.9 and 4.2 to 2.1 per cent respectively, from 2000 to 2010.

The exception were Malays who increased from 6.5 to 8.7 per cent.

Mode of transport

The Motorcycle/Scooter Only Resident Working Persons by Usual Mode of Transport to work was disproportionately high for Malays, at 13.1 per cent in 2010, compared to 2.4. 4.6 and 2.0, for Chinese, Indians and others, respectively.

The Population Density (per sq km) has increased from 5,900 persons per square kilometer in 2000 to 7,126 in 2010.

The Median Travelling Time was 50 minutes for those travelling by MRT & Public Bus Only.

This means that half of those who travelled by MRT & Public Bus Only, took more than 50 minutes, with 17 per cent taking more than 60 minutes.

The median travelling time to school was 45 minutes for polyclinic students and 50 minutes for university students.

This means that half of polytechnic and university students, took more than 45 and 50 minutes, respectively.

HDB households

There are 112,433 residents staying in 1 and 2-room HDB flats, and 632,538 in 3-room flats.

This means that about 24 per cent of those who stay in HDB flats are in 3-room or smaller flats.

Singles and widowed

There are 527,090 single males, 473,377 single females, 24,854 widowed males and 132,702 widowed females.

This works out to 32 per cent being single, and 5 per cent who are widowed.

Economically inactive

There are 44,292 and 39,380 unemployed males and females respectively, and 393,573 and 730,461 economically inactive males and females.

This means that about 36 per cent of the resident population are economically inactive.


There are 226,928 resident working persons with gross monthly income from work below $1,000, 191,315 between $1,000 – $1,499, and 198,360 between $1,500 – $1,999.

So, there are a total of 418,243 persons or 22 per cent of the total of 1,898,042 residents, who earned less than $1,500.

Since the data excludes persons working at their place of residence, the number earning less than $1,500 may be higher.

There are 139,876 1-Person households, or about 12 per cent of total households, who stayed alone.

120,010 resident households had no working persons, 42,762 earned below $1,000 and 93,532 earned between $1,000 – $1,999.

This means that about 10 per cent of households had no working persons, 4 per cent earned below $1,000 and 8 per cent between $1,000 – $1,999.

102,383 resident working persons had usual hours worked below 30 hours, and 42,399 between 30 – 34 hours.

These persons would be defined as part-timers.

Finally, although the Economic Development Board (EDB) is doing a great job bringing increasing investments to Singapore practically every year, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has policies which undermine Singapore’s holistic economic development and social cohesion, resulting in more Singaporeans working longer hours for lesser pay. Theo

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