The Covid-19 health crisis in Malaysia has weakened the overall demand for labour in the country. Picture by Hari Anggara
KUALA LUMPUR, July 14 Malaysian graduates also suffered a decline in their average salaries in 2020, just like Malaysians with other educational qualifications, as they took on pretty much any job that was available amid a weak labour market during the Covid-19 crisis, the Department of Statistics Malaysias (DoSM) latest report showed.
In its Salaries & Wages Survey Report released today, DoSM today noted that Malaysian employees median and mean monthly salaries had declined for the first time across all educational attainment, especially for those whose qualifications are at the primary and secondary school levels.
DoSM explained that this was due to the Covid-19 health crisis in Malaysia that had been around for a year and which had weakened the overall demand for labour in the country.
Thus, it had led to a higher competition in the labour market which became one of the reasons for jobseekers, especially graduates, to accept any jobs for living regardless of their qualification, it said in explaining the scenario of more jobseekers competing for available jobs.
Amid such a situation, the median monthly salary for Malaysians with tertiary education (or whose higher level of education is above Form Five) went down from RM3,901 in 2019 to RM3,499, which marked a decrease by 10.3 per cent or a drop by RM402.
Median monthly salary for Malaysians whose highest level of education was secondary education went down from RM1,955 (2019) to RM1,630 (2020) or a decrease by RM325 (-16.6 per cent), while median monthly salary for those with primary education went down from RM1,560 (2019) to RM1,274 (2020) or a drop by RM286 (-18.3 per cent).
For Malaysians with no formal education, their median monthly salary as a whole dropped from RM1,436 (2019) to RM1,237 (2020), which represented a decline by RM199 (-13.9 per cent).
The median monthly salary in 2020 for those with primary education or no formal education was just slightly above the minimum wage level. (In Malaysia, the minimum wage is generally RM1,100, except for 56 locations (16 cities and 14 municipalities, including national capital Kuala Lumpur) where the minimum wage is RM1,200.)
The same was observed for mean monthly salaries, with the mean salary for the tertiary education category falling by RM472 or 10.2 per cent to RM4,171 in 2020, secondary education category falling by RM247 or 10.4 per cent to RM2,125 in 2020, primary education lowered by RM373 or 19.3 per cent to RM1,556, and the formal education category falling by RM161 or 10 per cent to RM1,447 in 2020.
The 2020 drop in mean and median monthly salaries across all education levels is a marked departure from the previous trend of steadily increasing salary levels.
Earlier in the report, DoSM had observed that the Covid-19 crisis had resulted in containment measures throughout 2020 via different forms of the movement control order, which affected Malaysias economy and saw the unemployment rate increasing from 3.3 per cent in 2019 to 4.5 per cent in 2020. (In the Labour Force Statistics 2020 released by DoSM in April, Malaysias unemployed persons rose from 508,200 persons in 2019 to 711,000 persons in 2020.)
Apart from underemployment with limited operating hours for businesses, DoSM also observed that 2020 saw some businesses opting to cut wages or put employees on unpaid leave when operations could not be conducted as usual, but also said the government had rolled out various economic packages to cushion the economic impact.

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