Statistics Dept: Uncertainty in labour market amid pandemic saw unemployment rate hit 4.5pc in 2020

Taxi drivers wait for passengers at a taxi station in Shah Alam during the conditional movement control order May 6, 2020. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Taxi drivers wait for passengers at a taxi station in Shah Alam during the conditional movement control order May 6, 2020. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

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KUALA LUMPUR, April 22 — The uneven Malaysia’s labour force situation in 2020 was profoundly caused by the health crisis and economic consequences, leading the unemployment rate to reach 4.5 per cent compared to 3.3 per cent in 2019, said the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DoSM).

Chief statistician Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin said throughout 2020, the global labour market was in uncertainty, resulting in job losses and reduction in working hours, as well as source of income, following the Covid-19 pandemic and strict containment measures adopted by many countries.

“During the health crisis, the monthly unemployment rate was hovering between 3.9 per cent and 5.3 per cent -- an addition of more than 200,000 of unemployed persons.

“The resumption of more business activities with adherence to strict standard operating procedures under the movement control order (MCO) towards the end of the year has helped balance the health interest with economic and businesses recovery,” he said in a statement based on the Statistics of Labour Force, Malaysia, 2020.

On the labour force situation last year, Mohd Uzir said the labour force, which comprised the employed and unemployed persons, augmented by 0.6 per cent to record 15.7 million persons from 15.6 million persons in 2019.

Meanwhile, he said the annual unemployment rate increased by 1.2 percentage points to 4.5 per cent in 2020, the highest rate since 1993.

The number of unemployed persons added up by 39.9 per cent to 711,000 persons from 508.2 thousand persons in 2019.

Out of this total, 72.3 per cent was actively unemployed, rising by 40.4 per cent to 514,200 persons from 366,200 persons in 2019.

Adding to this, he said the number of employed persons reduced by 0.8 per cent to 15 million persons from 15.1 million persons in 2019.

On the employment by economic sector, he said majority of the employed persons were concentrated in services with a share of 64.5 per cent followed by manufacturing (16.7 per cent) and agriculture (10.5 per cent).

Meanwhile, employed persons in the construction and mining and quarrying sectors encompassed 7.8 per cent and 0.5 per cent, respectively. 

Mohd Uzir said Malaysia’s labour market is expected to continue to grow marginally this year, albeit in a challenging environment due to the uncertainty of the health situation.

“While various phases of MCO 2.0 implemented continuously to curb the spread of the pandemic, some relaxation for economic activities to operate was permitted with compliance to strict standard operating procedures.

“Continuous economic recovery path backed by various initiative programmes by the government to support the survival of the businesses, as well as the rollout of vaccination programme in 2021 may relieve and reduce the burden of businesses.

“This, in turn, could assist in restoring and accelerating the revival of the labour market,” he added. — Bernama

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