Mind the gap between data and people's lives

Mind the gap between data and people's lives

My salary hasn't increased since 2008!"

"Whose income are they referring to?"

"Can we trust the figures? Not for me, because I AM JOBLESS now, and so is my close friend."

Such were some of the online responses to news that real median incomes grew 3.9 per cent this year, the most since 2008.

In statistics and speeches, people are often reminded that Singapore's workers are, on the whole, doing pretty well.

Unemployment is low. Pay is rising, even after taking inflation into account.

But for some, these reminders are at odds with what they see in their daily lives: their own stagnating pay, or their unemployed friends.

The disbelieving reactions above point to a gap which politicians, for one, might want to keep in mind: the difference between headline figures and individual lives.

But citizens, for their part, should also learn that anecdotes do not disprove data.

Official numbers will not always mirror personal experience. But that does not mean the numbers are wrong.

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