Survey: Malaysia Sees A 6.4 Per Cent Rise In Food Prices In 2021, But Minimum Wage Remains The Same

Tough times ahead.

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Survey: Malaysia Sees A 6.4 Per Cent Rise In Food Prices In 2021, But Minimum Wage Remains The Same
Unsplash/Li Lin

When necessities start becoming unattainable.

With the ongoing pandemic, times are really tough for some of us out there.

More and more Malaysians are finding it hard to survive in the real world, especially those who are living off minimum pay.

The bad news is, things are not getting easier for them this year as well.

Prices go up, salary remains the same

Things are getting more expensive.To further illustrate that point, local website Picodi has conducted a study about the rising cost of living and how it affects minimum wage earners...and it's not good news for Malaysians.

In the study titled 'Minimum wage around the world: how the pandemic has impacted the least paid workers', Picodi took a look at the amount a minimum wage earner brings home in 56 countries and how much they would have to spend on basic food items.

The study found that the prices of food in Malaysia have increased by 6.35 per cent compared to last year, but minimum wage has stayed unchanged.

It's a relatively small sample size, considering that it's just three weeks into 2021, but having seen that much increase in that time frame is quite alarming.

Minimum wage earners are having a tough time surviving.
To determine the change in food prices, Picodi created a virtual shopping basket and filled it with eight essential food items that meet the nutritional needs of an adult: bread, eggs, rice, milk, meat, cheese, vegetables and fruits. 

The total of the virtual basket came up to RM365.70.

Last year, the total of the virtual basket with the same amount of items was RM343.87, which is 6.35 per cent less compared to 2021. 

Malaysian minimum wage earners are not doing well.
To further put things into perspective, the amount spent on said groceries would eat up 34.5 per cent of a minimum wage earner's monthly salary. Last year, it was just 32.4 per cent.

For comparisons sake, a minimum wage earner in the United Kingdom and Australia would only have to use seven per cent and 7.2 per cent of their pay respectively on the same basic food necessities every month.

The state of minimum pay in Malaysia

If there's one finding in the study that the Malaysian government has to really take a good look at is this: minimum wage earners in the country are finding it increasingly hard to make ends meet.

According to the same study, the COVID-19 pandemic has stopped the increase of minimum wage in the country compared to the previous year, ranking 41st in the list of 56 countries.

The current minimum wage in Malaysia is RM1,200, according to Trading Economics - which is a mere RM100 increase from 2019.


While the government has been mum about an increase of minimum pay this year, we sincerely hope that they would heed the plight of minimum wage earners in Malaysia and help them get through this storm.

As there's still no end in sight for the pandemic, minimum wage earners need help more than ever.

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