By Sue-Ann Chia, Senior Political Correspondent
THE recession is over but bosses may not be heaving a sigh of relief. A new challenge is looming: rising wage bills.
From June, bosses will no longer enjoy any wage subsidy from the Jobs Credit scheme.
From July, they will have to fork out a higher levy for foreign workers, or pay more to hire local workers as the inflow of foreigners starts to slow.
From September, they will have to put in a higher contribution to their workers' Central Provident Fund (CPF) accounts.
And if that does not pack enough of a whammy, they also have to heed the national call to boost productivity and pay packages.
Poor employers, some would say, as they seem to be under attack on several fronts to raise wages.
But think of it the other way: Could it be payback time?
For years, companies have creamed off a larger share of economic gains - larger than those in other developed countries or industrialising economies in Asia.
As a result, workers get a slice of Singapore's gross domestic product (GDP) that is considered unusually small compared with their counterparts' share in those countries.
Workers' wages account for less than half of Singapore's GDP. In contrast, wages take up more than half of GDP in developed countries.
This means that Singapore may have achieved one of the highest per capita GDPs - at $51,656 last year - but the superlative showing may not reflect the wealth of workers or benefit them as much.
It has led some analysts to wonder if Singapore is a First World economy with what is closer to a Third World wage structure.
'Factually, our wage levels are much higher than Third World (economies'). Otherwise, so many foreign workers would not be flooding into Singapore,' notes economist Manu Bhaskaran from Centennial Asia Advisors.
'The problem is not our wage levels, which are reasonably high, but whether they are commensurate with our per capita GDP level.'
So are wage levels keeping pace with economic growth? Or is Singapore's low wage share of GDP an indication that workers have been losing out?