KUALA LUMPUR —New data from Juwai IQI based on a survey of hundreds of consumers reveals that the effects of the pandemic have not been as harmful as anticipated.
The data examines the pandemic’s impact on household income, employment and businesses and the route back to normality. Each factor is examined from the perspective of gender, state and age group.
“Malaysians did quite well compared to many other nations, and a significant portion saw better than expected results,” said Juwai IQI Group Co-Founder and CEO Kashif Ansari, summing up the data.
Household Income Rises for More Than One-Quarter of Malaysians
“Just over one year into the pandemic, 28% of respondents report that their household income is higher than it was 12 months ago, compared to 40% who report lower income. A minority of 10% of Malaysians report that their income is now ‘a lot higher’ than one year earlier.
“As might be expected, both men and women report similar changes in household income over the past year. Over that time, 29% of men and 26% of women report their household income has climbed ‘a lot’ or ‘a little.’
“The best-off states in terms of income are Penang and Sabah, with 29% of respondents in each state reporting higher household income today.
“Which generation is best weathering the pandemic? It turns out that Millennials, also known as Gen Y, are more likely to report higher rates of increased income than people of other ages. Thirty-one per cent of Millennials have higher household income than a year ago. Generation Z was next, with 29% reporting higher household income. Generation X followed with 28%. Boomers and older individuals had the lowest rate of increased household income, with 17% reporting an increase over the past year.
“Members of Generation Z are aged 9 to 24, Millennials are also called Gen Y and are 24 to 39, Gen X are 41 to 56, and Boomers are 57 to 74.
CHARTS: “How is your household income today compared to one year ago?
70% of Malaysians Kept Their Jobs and Businesses
“When it comes to keeping businesses open and maintaining high employment, the pandemic has presented both government and businesses with severe challenges. Despite this, 70% of Malaysians report that they have neither lost a job nor had to close a business.
“Women and men had very similar rates of continued employment. Sixty-nine per cent of women report they have not lost their job or had to close their business over the past year. Men were marginally higher, with 71% reporting the same.
“The states with the best results in this respect are Penang and Kuala Lumpur or Selangor. There, 72% of respondents kept their job or their business open.
“The oldest generations are the most likely to have gotten through without losing a job or having to close a business. Seventy-three per cent of Baby Boomers and older respondents did so.
“Millennials and Generation Z were the next best-performing age groups, with 71% of individuals in this age group enjoying job security in the pandemic year. Members of Generation X did less well, with 65% of individuals reporting they did not lose their job or close their business in the past year.
CHARTS: “Did you personally lose your job or have to close your business in 2020?”
Largest Share Expect Life Back to Normal This Year or Next
“The pandemic has upended normal routines, but not all Malaysians agree on how fast life will be back to something like normal. Our survey reveals that some see normalcy returning only in 2023 or even later, but others believe it could happen as early as this year.
“The greatest share of respondents, 28%, expect life to get back to pre-pandemic normal by December 2021. July of 2022 is the next highest-ranked, with 18% of respondents. 17% of respondents expect us to be back to normal sometime in 2023. Smaller numbers predict normalcy will return by December 2022 or later than 2023.
“There is very little difference along gender lines in opinions on when life will return to normal. Forty per cent of men and 38% of women believe life will be back to normal by the end of 2021. Overall, men are mildly more optimistic than women. The biggest difference is in the share of individuals who expect a return to normalcy will come only sometime in 2023. Only 14% of men believe it will take until 2023, while 21% of women believe it will.
“Residents of Johor are the most optimistic about the return to normal, with 58% of respondents there expecting life to be back to pre-pandemic normal in 2021. In the other states, the share who expect to be able to put the pandemic behind them by the end of this year is 44% in Penang, 43% in Sabah, 41% in Kuala Lumpur or Selangor and 39% in Sarawak.
“The states with the most individuals who foresee only a slow return to normal are Sabah and Sarawak. In each state, 35% of locals believe it will be at least 2023 before the pandemic-related disruption ends.
“Among the generations, opinions are also divided. Generation Z is the most uncertain. Forty-six per cent of members of Generation Z expect to get back to normal by the end of 2021, but another 36% believe they won’t do so until sometime in 2023 or later. No other generation is as polarized.
CHARTS: In your opinion, how soon will life be back to pre-pandemic normal?