Last Friday, the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM) released the Employees Wages Statistics (formal sector) report, which painted a bleak picture of Malaysians working in the formal sector and their level of income.
In the report, which covers 6.45 million Malaysians who work in the formal sector, it is revealed that the median wage stands at a paltry RM2,600.
46% of workers earning less than the median wage
Although the median wage recorded an 8% increase from the RM2,400 of last year, it still shows that the Malaysian formal sector still has a long way to go in terms of paying workers a liveable wage.
Even more worrying, the report also revealed that 46% of Malaysians in the formal sector are taking home less than the median wage. In fact, according to the report, 10% of Malaysians are earning less than RM1500, which is supposed to be the minimum wage for Malaysian workers.
Other things revealed in the report includes the median monthly wages according to sex, where male workers recorded a higher median compared to female workers.
For median monthly wages according to ethnicity, where Chinese Malaysians tower among their counterparts, recording a median wage of RM4,745 compared to Malay’s RM2,300, Indians RM2,727, and others at RM2,127.
Wages for skilled workers are being dragged down – Rafizi
At the press conference after the launch of the report, Economy Minister Rafizi Ramli voiced out his worries regarding the numbers revealed by the report.
In the report, it is shown that the median wage for Malaysians aged between 20-24 is a paltry RM1,682, which highlights a bigger problem.
According to Rafizi, this shows the need for a policy that ensures the minimum wage is not used as the starting pay for skilled workers.
In the press conference, Rafizi noted that the minimum wage is supposed to be a benchmark for unskilled workers, which will lead to higher wages for skilled workers.
“However, statistics showed that the wages for skilled workers are being dragged down because minimum wage has been used as a guidance for fresh graduates and skilled workers.
“This is a phenomenon that requires an immediate policy so that we can rectify the problem,” said Rafizi.
In his address, Rafizi also stated how the numbers released by DOSM shows that there is an inherent wage problem among formal sector workers in Malaysia.
Hence why he hopes and believes that the business community will be receptive towards the Progressive Wage Model which he will be presenting today (Monday).
“We have harmonised the various agencies’ views on how we can do this. What we will be presenting next Monday is a halfway meeting which can be successfully implemented and practised in this country. It’s a middle path that requires commitment from the government and employers. We are hopeful that it will get the support from employers as well,” he added.
Read More: T20, M40, B40 Household Income Update 2023