Prior to this “first-time decline”, however, the country’s mean salary was undergoing a consistent increase, albeit at a gradual pace.

Malaysia’s Department of Statistics (DOSM), on 14 July (Wednesday), released the nation’s salaries and wages report 2020, which revealed that average monthly salaries and wages in the nation decreased by 9% year-on-year (yoy) in 2020. This translates to a drop from an average of RM3,224 (2019) to RM2,933 (2020).

Based from the report’s commentary, this was a “first-time decline” since this report was birthed in 2010.

Prior to this decline, however, the country’s mean salaries and wages was, in fact, undergoing a consistent increase for a couple of years, albeit at a gradual pace. In 2017, the average was at RM2,879. This figure increased to RM3,087 and RM3,224 respectively in 2018 and 2019.

Level of education

Whether it is tertiary education, secondary, or primary, the mean monthly salaries and wages across all formal education that Malaysians have attained, has decreased. The same trend is also present in those without any formal education.

According to the report, the average monthly salaries and wages of those with tertiary education decreased from RM4,643 (2019) to RM4,171 (2020). Those with:

  • A secondary education decreased from RM2,372 (2019) to RM2,125 (2020);
  • A primary education decreased from RM1,929 (2019) to RM1,556 (2020); and
  • No formal education decreased from RM1,608 (2019) to RM1,447 (2020)

Level of skillset

The department divided the Malaysian working population into three categories of skillset: skilled, semi-skilled, and low-skilled.

“Skilled category recorded the highest decrease of value in mean monthly salaries and wages,” DOSM reported.

In numbers, those who fall under the skilled category had a drop in mean monthly salaries and wages from RM5,072 (2019) to RM4,619 (2020).

Meanwhile, those under semi-skilled and low-skilled had a decrease from RM2,206 (2019) to RM2,007 (2020) and RM1,751 (2019) to RM1,727 (2020) respectively.

Type of sectors

With regard to economic sectors in Malaysia, the Department of Statistics shared that the mining and quarry sector recorded the “highest in mean monthly salaries and wages”. This is followed by services sector, manufacturing, construction, and agriculture.

As of 2020, Malaysians who are in mining and quarry sector have average monthly earnings of RM5,064, although this is a decrease from RM6,154 in 2019.

Those in the other sectors garner the following earnings:

  • Services – RM3,103 (2020), RM3,426 (2019)
  • Manufacturing – RM2,542 (2020), RM2,616 (2019)
  • Construction – RM2,557 (2020), RM2,854 (2019)
  • Agriculture – RM1,598 (2020), RM1,997 (2019)

Commenting on the statistics, Malaysian Chief Statistician Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin, as reported by Astro Awani, shared: “The decline was due to the country's labour market experiencing uncertain momentum last year due to the pandemic causing negative impacts to its health and economy.”

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