Filipino Frontliners are the Least Paid Compared to ASEAN Peers, Study Says

IMAGE Jerome Ascano / Summit

Filipino registered nurses and medical technologists earn the least among their peers elsewhere in Southeast Asia. This is according to the findings of information aggregator iPrice, which recorded the salaries of various frontliners during the coronavirus pandemic.

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Based on the study, experienced registered nurses in the Philippines earn about P40,381 a month, while medical technologists earn even less, at P29,444 a month.

The salary of Filipino registered nurses is 57 percent less than the next lowest paid registered nurses, which are from Vietnam (P63,200/mo). Singaporean nurses, on the other hand, 486 percent more (P274,800/mo) and are the highest-paid in the region.

According to iPrice, the wage gap between the Philippines’ healthcare workers and its neighbors with similar costs of living, such as Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia, is also wide. Malaysian medical technologists earn 178 percent more than Filipino medical technologists, while, Thai and Indonesian registered nurses earn 104 percent and 95 percent more than Filipino nurses, respectively.

Filipino frontliners in the service industry are likewise less compensated than their peers in the region, except for those in Vietnam. These include supermarket stock clerks (P13,300/mo), security guards (P15,400/mo), warehouse workers (P14,500/mo), and delivery truck driver helpers (P23,300/mo). Filipino warehouse workers earn 54 percent more than Vietnamese warehouse workers while Filipino security guards earn 34 percent more than their compatriots in Vietnam.

iPrice also found that non-healthcare Filipino frontliners still don’t earn as much compared to those living in countries with comparable cost of living. For instance, Malaysian supermarket stock clerks earn 174 percent more than Filipino stock clerks, while Thai and Indonesian delivery truck helpers both earn about 107 percent more than Filipino delivery helpers.


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

Photo by iPrice.

As ecommerce is starting to play a more vital role amidst the pandemic, iPrice also looked at the average basket size—or the amount added to an online shopping cart—of each country in their platform

This year, Filipinos’ average basket size increased by 57% compared to last year’s, which means Filipinos spend about P1,300 a month online. This is already close to 10 perent of the average salary of grocery stock clerks. In comparison, Malaysians’ average basket size is only six 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’,” the report said.

Lastly, according to the Philippine Statistical Authority’s data, the average household expenditure of Filipinos is about P19,917 a month.

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“Given this amount and the average salaries recorded by iPrice, we can see how our frontliners may struggle to make ends meet while risking their lives,” iPrice said.

The full study can be found here.

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Paul John Caña
Associate Editor, Esquire Philippines
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