GRADUATES in Malaysia generally enjoyed higher salaries last year, but the statistics indicate a skew towards the lower end of the distribution of wages.
The Statistics Department’s flagship Graduates Statistics 2018 report released yesterday revealed that median monthly salaries for 2018 grew 10.9% to RM3,936 from RM3,550 in 2017, while mean salaries increased by 4.7% to RM4,897 from RM4,676 in 2017.
Sunway Business School Professor of Economics Dr Yeah Kim Leng told The Malaysian Insight the statistics paint a good picture of wage performance in 2018.
“The mean and median salary increases for all age groups in 2018 exceeded the nominal gross domestic product growth of 5.5% as well as the 1% rise in inflation,” Yeah said.
This means the increase in real salary after adjusting to inflation is positive, he said, suggesting that the working population was better off financially in 2018.
“However, the averages mask the unequal or skewed distribution of salaries and their increases, as indicated by the divergence between mean and median salaries where the mean is higher than the median,” he said.
The distribution is skewed toward lower salaries, indicating that a sizeable portion of workers are being paid less than the mean salary, Yeah said.
Malaysian Employers Federation executive director Shamsuddin Bardan said the increasing median salary is a healthy sign.
“I would say that this is the market rate now, and it is neither too low or too high. But of course, what is important is that basically we see growth in the median wage itself which increased by 10.9% which is quite high,” he said when asked if the statistics reflected the ideal rate.
The report also said graduates were paid more as they got older.
The median salary of those aged 24 and below is RM2,112 and the mean salary of RM2,320.
Those above 45 earned a median of RM6,859 and a mean of RM8,199.
The report also showed that male graduates earned more than females.
The median monthly salary for a male graduate was RM4,335 but only RM3,727 for a female, while the mean salary for men was RM5,475 and RM4,369 for women.
Along ethnic lines, the Chinese graduates were the most well-paid with median and mean salaries of RM4,380 and RM5,621. This is followed by Indians with median salary of RM3,859 and mean of RM4,830, Bumiputera (median of RM3,822 and mean of RM4,633) and others (median of RM3,601 and mean of RM5,278).
Graduates in the skilled category earned better salaries than semi-skilled and low-skilled counterparts with a median and mean salaries of RM4,684 and RM5,591.
Semi-skilled graduates earned a median salary of RM2,139 and amean salary of RM2,418, whereas low-skilled workers earned RM1,802 and RM1,902 in mean and median salary.
The report said mining and quarrying was the highest paid sector with a median salary of RM6,535 and a mean wage of RM9,137.