Malaysiakini News

Penang’s economy is healthy and strong

Ong Kian Ming  |  Published:  |  Modified:

MP SPEAKS | Data recently released by the Statistics Department has shown what many Penangites already know.

Penang’s economy is growing strongly with very low unemployment and rising wages across the board, coupled with decreasing inequality, as evidenced by the statistics quoted below.

A holistic examination of Penang’s economic data shows that Penang is among the top performing states in Malaysia on nearly all the important economic indicators.

Penang’s GDP per capita in 2016 (current prices) is RM47,322, the second highest after Kuala Lumpur and higher than Selangor (RM44,616), Malacca (RM41,363) and Johor (RM31,952).

Penang’s real GDP growth was 5.6 percent in 2016, 5.5 percent in 2015 and eight percent in 2014. This growth was ranked second in 2014, fifth in 2015 and third in 2016.

Penang and Selangor are the only two states to rank in the top five states in terms of real GDP growth from 2014 to 2016.

Penang’s unemployment rate of 2.1 percent in 2016 is the second lowest in the country after Malacca (0.9 percent).

This shows that despite some of the recent factory closures, the labour market in Penang is still very tight as a result of new and higher value-added investments coming into the state.

Penang’s median and mean household income of RM5,409 and RM6,771 respectively in 2016 puts it in fifth place behind KL, Selangor, Johor and Malacca.

If we examine the per capita household income, i.e., household income divided by the number of people in each household, we find that Penang is ranked third with a median and mean per capita household income of RM1,595 and RM2,402 respectively, behind Selangor and KL).

At the same time, Penang has also experienced the fifth largest drop in its Gini coefficient, from 0.364 in 2014 to 0.356 in 2016, a fall of 0.008. Note that there were five states whose Gini coefficient actually worsened from 2014 to 2016; namely Sabah, Negeri Sembilan, Malacca, Kedah and Johor. 

To summarise, in nearly all of the economic data reported above, Penang ranks in the top three among all the states in Malaysia and at worse, in the top five. Thus, Penang’s economy is built on a sound foundation that is sustainable and equitable.


ONG KIAN MING is Serdang MP and head of the Penang Institute in Kuala Lumpur.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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