Our salaries never seem to be enough to cover the rising costs of living even as we try our hardest to scrimp and save. Especially if you’re living in big cities like Kuala Lumpur, things just seem to get more expensive. Sad but true!
So, just how much should a single person make to actually live comfortably in Malaysia? According to Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), in their annual report for 2017, they said that single citizens should be earning RM2,700 a month. Meanwhile, for a family with two children, they should be earning at least RM6,500 for a living wage.
These amounts are an acceptable living wage, as this means that they can survive with basic necessities as well as still participate in society, be free from financial stress and have personal development. Basically, still can enjoy a little lah! NST reported that based on findings from 2016, BNM governor Tan Sri Muhammad Ibrahim said that these wages would hopefully provide a guideline for employers to provide fair wages.
He said that currently, half of the workforce in Malaysia earns about RM1,700 a month, which is not enough. Meanwhile, the average starting salary is about RM1,550 for diploma holders, which is only RM350 more than the minimum wage of RM1,200, Bernama reported.
“Since 2014, the incomes of the bottom 40% (B40) of households expanded by 5.8% on an annual basis, equivalent to RM156 per month. However, expenditures grew at a faster pace of 6%, or RM120 per month, which leaves the B40 with little money to spend,” he added.
“In Malaysia, the highest cost of living is actually here (Kuala Lumpur), and to a certain extent, the suggested minimum wage could also be applied in Penang and Johor Bahru. If you are single person living in Muar, and you earn RM2,700, you will live very comfortably because the rental rates and the cost of living are low,” he explained.
Muhammad Ibrahim said that setting this amount as the standard for a living wage would promote a higher quality of life in Malaysia and would encourage productivity. Currently, about 27% of the households in Kuala Lumpur earn below the minimum living wage and consists of people with secondary school education working low-to-middle-skill jobs.
Tertiary graduates fared better as they mostly earned above the minimum living wage, especially those with high skilled jobs. He added that these findings were important to create a workforce that could provide higher living standards for Malaysians. BNM also outlined plans to set up the Malaysia Bureau of Labour Statistics in 2019, which would help the government keep tabs on job creations and monthly salaries.
Hopefully Malaysian employers will follow these guidelines and increase our salaries!