MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is at the bottom of the pit in Southeast Asia when it comes to compensating nurses and medical technologists — some of the most crucial front-line workers in the global war on the coronavirus pandemic.

This is based on new research by data aggregator iPrice Group, which recorded the salaries of mid-level front-liners in seven Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) countries via Economic Research Institute-powered Salary Expert.

Results of the study, which measured the wage gaps among the Asean countries and analyzed earnings vis-a-vis the rise of online spending, were released on Wednesday.

Experienced registered nurses earn about P40,381 a month in the Philippines, 57 percent less than their peers in Vietnam, the country with the next lowest paid nurses among the seven countries in the study. Nurses in Vietnam make around P62,200 per month.

Singaporean nurses, on the other hand, outperform their Philippine counterparts by a whopping 486 percent as they earn an equivalent of around P236,400 per month. Singapore offers the highest wages across the region for the front-line jobs included in this research.

Nurses with comparable work experience in Indonesia and Thailand earn about P79,000 and P83,000 per month, while Malaysian peers earn about P97,000.

Medical technologists

The research also showed that med tech workers earn around P29,444 in the Philippines monthly, lower than the P57,000 in Vietnam. Those in Malaysia earn 178 percent more than their Filipino counterparts at P82,000 monthly.

Singaporean peers earn P210,000 monthly.

Other Filipino front-liners during the pandemic, such as supermarket clerks, delivery truck drivers, warehouse workers and security guards, are still at the end of the spectrum in terms of take-home pay. These jobs draw better wages in the Philippines than in Vietnam.

Costs of living

Local delivery truck or driver helpers earn about P23,300 monthly compared to P17,000 in Vietnam. Local supermarket clerks earn about P13,300 monthly, better than the P10,000 in Vietnam, the research showed.

Filipino warehouse workers earn 54 percent more than their Vietnamese peers, while security guards earn 34 percent more than their counterparts in Vietnam.

“However, this does not put these Filipino employees at a comfortable spot. Again, looking at countries with similar costs of living, non-healthcare Filipino front-liners still don’t earn as much,” iPrice said.

The group noted that Malaysian supermarket stock clerks were earning 174 percent more than the Filipinos, while Thai and Indonesian delivery truck helpers were both earning about 107 percent more than the Filipinos.

“This goes to show that Filipino wages may not be enough for their spending,” it said.

Basket size

Given that the average household expenditure of Filipinos is about P19,917 per month, based on Philippine Statistical Authority data, iPrice said many local front-liners were barely making ends meet while risking their lives.

“They certainly deserve more than a day of appreciation,” iPrice said

As purchasing essentials online is now the new norm and as e-commerce starts to play a vital role amidst the pandemic, iPrice looked at the average basket size of each country in their platform.

This year, Filipinos’ average basket size increased by 57 percent compared to last year’s, which means Filipinos spend about P1,300 a month online.

This already constituted about 10 percent of the average salary of grocery stock clerks.

In comparison, Malaysians’ average basket size is only 6 percent of the average grocery stock clerk’s salary despite having a higher average basket size of P2,336.

“Looking at this data and comparison, we can have an idea of how much more comfortable Malaysians’ quality of life may be compared to Filipinos’,” iPrice said.

The average salaries recorded by iPrice are in between the salary of entry-level and senior employees.

Salary Expert bases the figures on salary survey data collected directly from employers and anonymous employees.

The exchange rate of salaries was based on Morningstar’s exchange rate on Aug. 25.


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