News: Despite gender pay gap, Malaysians’ monthly wages are rising

Compensation & Benefits

Despite gender pay gap, Malaysians’ monthly wages are rising

Malaysia's formal sector saw a 4.9% increase in median monthly wages to RM2,900, alongside a continuous gender wage gap.
Despite gender pay gap, Malaysians’ monthly wages are rising

KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia’s monthly wages have increased – even as the gender wage gap persists and men earn 100 ringgit more than women.

In December 2023, the median monthly wages in the country’s formal sector grew by 4.9%, reaching RM2,900. This indicates a significant increase in earnings compared to the previous year, and highlights economic progress within this segment.

Apart from wage growth, the workforce in Malaysia's formal sector also expanded to 6.67 million people, marking a 1.8% increase year on year since December 2022. This growth underscores a strengthening job market. Of these, 55.5% were male, or approximately 3.7 million, demonstrating a predominantly male workforce in formal employment. Meanwhile, there are 2.97 million women in the sector.

The breakdown of wages between genders in the formal sector showed some disparities. Male employees earned a median monthly wage of RM2,945, slightly higher than their female counterparts, who earned RM2,845. This wage gap highlights ongoing issues in wage equality among male and female workers.

Workers aged between 45 and 49 received the highest median monthly wages, amounting to RM3,927. This group also topped the wage chart in the preceding months of October and November, each with a median wage of RM3,500, underscoring a consistent trend in earnings for this age bracket.

Despite the overall wage growth, the age group below 20 years was the exception, as they did not see an increase in median monthly wages compared to the previous year. On the other hand, all other age groups witnessed a rise in their median monthly wages during the same period, reflecting broad wage improvements across the workforce.

What the wage growth patterns mean for HR

The pattern of wage increases across different age groups – except for the youngest workers – is encouraging for a country whose citizens have been exploring greater work opportunities in neighbouring Singapore.

The sustained higher earnings for the 45 to 49 age group, in particular, highlight their significant experience and value in the workforce, potentially influencing their higher wage bracket.

This consistent wage increase, particularly among mid-career professionals, indicates a maturing workforce that values experience and skills development.

However, the lack of wage growth for those under 20 could reflect their limited experience and the lower value placed on entry-level skills, underscoring the need for targeted policies to support young workers entering the workforce.

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Topics: Compensation & Benefits, Business

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