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Real salaries in Singapore expected to rebound in 2024 as inflation eases

  • Workers in Singapore are expected to receive a salary increase of 4.0% in nominal terms in 2024, consistent with the rate in 2023.
  • After factoring in inflation, the forecast real salary increase in Singapore for 2024 will be 0.5%, marking a rebound from the 1.5% decrease in real terms in 2023.
  • Real salary increases in the APAC region once again took the lead in 2023, outperforming the rest of the world and securing top positions in the rankings.

According to the latest Salary Trends Report by ECA International (ECA), real wages in Singapore, which are equal to nominal wage growth minus the rate of inflation, fell by 1.5% in 2023 and are expected to rise once again in 2024, where workers will see an 0.5% increase in real wages.

ECA International is the world’s leading provider of information, software and expertise for the management and assignment of employees around the world. The annual Salary Trends report analyses current and projected salary increases in more than 70 locations across the world.

In nominal terms, salaries for workers in Singapore increased 4% in 2023 and are projected to increase at the same level again in 2024. However, due to the high rate of inflation witnessed in Singapore in 2023 - 5.5% - salaries for workers fell by 1.5% in real terms. Nevertheless, the forecast for 2024 is a return to real salary growth with an expected increase of 0.5% in real terms     .

“Singapore was expected to see a return to real salary growth in 2023,” explained Mark Harrison, General Manager, Asia for ECA International. “However, as a relatively high rate of inflation persisted, workers in Singapore are worse off this year in real terms than they were in 2022. Looking forward to next year, it is expected that Singapore will see a return to real salary growth.”

Asia Highlights

Real salary increases in the APAC region once again outperformed the rest of the world in 2023, with nine of the 12 locations with the highest real salary increases in the world being in the region. The average forecast rate of increase in real terms in the region for 2024 is 2.2%, more than double the global average of 1%. Most surveyed locations in the APAC region are likely to maintain or exceed their 2023 real salary growth rates in 2024, with the exceptions being Sri Lanka and New Zealand.

Salaries for workers in Hong Kong in nominal terms rose 4.0% in 2023 and are projected to increase at the same level in 2024. Workers in Hong Kong have also benefited from below-average rates of inflation compared to their APAC and global counterparts, resulting in continued salary increases in real terms next year. After taking inflation into account, the real forecast salary increase in Hong Kong will be 1.7% next year, 0.1% lower than 2023.

"As we look ahead, it's promising to see that the nominal salary increase in Hong Kong has rebounded to pre-COVID levels in 2023, as expected,” said Harrison. “Although real salary growth in Hong Kong in 2023 is in the middle of APAC regional ranking, squarely at the median percentage, this growth remains substantially higher than the 1.5% fall in salaries in real terms observed in Singapore."

Rates of salary growth in Malaysia and across other ASEAN countries vary. In Malaysia, salaries increased by 2.1% in 2023 in real terms and are expected to grow further by 2.3% in real terms in 2024. Vietnam led the way in ASEAN in 2023 with a salary growth of 3.6% in real terms, a rate which is forecast to be the same in 2024. Conversely, workers in Laos experienced a significant decrease in salaries in real terms in 2023, with salaries falling by 23.1% in real terms due to a soaring rate of inflation of 28.1%. Salaries are forecast to continue to decrease in real terms in 2024. However, a real terms fall by a further 3.0% is an improvement from the previous year as the rate of inflation is expected to fall substantially to 9.0%.

In 2023, workers in China experienced a nominal salary increase of 5.3%, and this is expected to rise to 5.8% next year. Notably, China recorded the lowest rate of inflation in the region for 2023, at just 0.7%, with a forecast increase to 1.7% in 2024. Consequently, the average salary increases in China in real terms stand at 4.6% in 2023, making it the third-highest globally and the second-highest in the region. Projections for 2024 anticipate a real salary increase of 4.1%, remaining in the top three both globally and regionally.

Harrison stated: “Due to the advantage of a lower inflation rate compared to the rest of the world, most locations in Greater China except Hong Kong rank among the top 10 globally for the highest real forecast salary increases in 2024. Notably, the inflation forecast for Taiwan in 2024 is the lowest, and China ranks as the third lowest in the Asia Pacific region.”

Japan presents a challenging scenario, with the nominal salary increase for 2023 being the lowest in the region at 2.8%. The forecast for the following year remains modest at 3.0%, continuing to position Japan at the bottom of the regional ranking. Meanwhile, Japan's history of very low rates of inflation seems to have ended, with inflation rates rising to 3.2% this year. Although the rate of inflation is expected to fall to 2.9% in 2024, workers in Japan will see little improvement in their real incomes by the end of next year: A decrease of 0.4% in real terms in 2023 will only be slightly offset by real salary growth of 0.1% next year.

Global highlights

Globally, the average salary increase in nominal terms was 5.0% this year and is forecast to be the same in 2024. Inflation rates are expected to fall from an average of 5.5% this year to 3.6% next year. After factoring in inflation, globally salaries fell by 0.9% on average in real terms in 2023, but they are expected to return to growth in 2024 where average salaries will grow by 1.0% in real terms.

Europe continues to trail other regions globally for real salary increases, where at 0.9% salaries will grow at less than half of the 2.2% increase in real terms anticipated for employees in Asia in 2024. Salaries in the UK fell by 2.7% this year in real terms. Nevertheless, with the anticipated decrease in inflation from 7.7% in 2023 to 3.7% in 2024, real salaries in the UK are forecast to rise by 1.3% next year.

Top 10 forecast real salary increases – Asia Pacific

2024 forecast real salary increase (%)
2023 real salary increase (%)
Korea Republic

Notes to Editors

About ECA’s Salary Trends Survey

The information above was taken from ECA's Salary Trends Survey 2023/2024, with inflation rates used from the IMF World Economic Overview released in October 2023. The survey reports current-year salary increases for local national employees and the anticipated increases for reviews in the forthcoming year. It is based on information collected from over 360 multinational companies in more than 70 locations. Reports are available free to all participants or for purchase either as a set or individually per country for non-participants from the ECA website.

The forecast average real salary increase in a country is calculated by looking at the predicted average nominal salary percentage increase (i.e. the salary increase given to employees by their employers) and subtracting the forecast inflation. E.g. if the average nominal salary increase in a country is 4% and inflation is at 2.1%, this would result in an average real salary increase of 1.9% (4%-2.1%=1.9%).

Data is based on increases including merit. Including merit is the total salary increase and represents general cost of living/inflationary increases plus performance/merit related increases. The data above was collected from August to September 2023. 

The survey included data from all seniorities across the following industry groups which included Energy, mining & petrochemicals; Chemical & pharmaceutical; Transport & logistics; Manufacturing & consumer goods; Legal & professional services; Engineering & technology; Retail, leisure & other services; Financial services; Non-profit.

About ECA International 

ECA International is the market-leading provider of knowledge, information and technology that enables businesses to manage their international reward programmes.

Partnering with thousands of clients on every continent, we provide a fully integrated suite of quality data, specialist software, consultancy and training. Our unparalleled insights guide clients as they mobilise their most valuable resource: people.

We make the complex world of international mobility simple, providing clients with the expertise and support they need to make the right decisions - every time.

ECA International: Mobility solutions for a world that’s constantly moving.

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