KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 8 ― The labour market has been improving since last December with a lower unemployment rate of 4.2 per cent with 687,600 unemployed while employment continued to rise, according to the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM) in a statement on the Statistics of Labour Force Malaysia, December and Fourth Quarter of 2021.

Chief statistician Datuk Seri Mohd Uzir Mahidin said the Covid-19 pandemic which hit the global economy for two consecutive years had hindered a full and balanced recovery of the labour market.

He said to address the situation, initiatives were implemented to ensure public health was protected and the country’s economy could be reopened in stages through the National Recovery Plan (PPN).

“Last December, the working population continued to increase, with a marginal increase of 0.2 per cent month-on-month to 15.65 million people. The ratio of employment to population indicating the economic ability to create employment recorded a slight increase to 66.1 per cent,” he said in the statement today.

He said employment in the services sector remained high for the sixth month apart from the manufacturing and construction sectors recording positive growth for five consecutive months while employment in the agriculture, mining and quarrying sectors continued to decline since August 2020.

Commenting on the unemployment situation last December, he said according to the category of unemployment, active unemployed or those who are ready to work and are actively seeking jobs make up 83.8 per cent of the total of unemployed.

“This group recorded a decrease of 0.9 per cent to 576,500 people. Unemployment for less than three months accounted for 55.9 per cent while those who were in long-term unemployment for more than a year made up 7.6 per cent.

“For those who believe there are no available jobs or categorised as inactive unemployed, this group recorded a drop of 1.3 per cent to 111,100 people,” he said.

According to him, the overall labour force participation rate (LFPR) for last year rose 0.2 percentage point to 68.6 per cent compared to 68.4 per cent in 2020, and the increase in employment was due to the low working population in 2020.

“In Malaysia, the effects from the Covid-19 pandemic somewhat disrupted the economic recovery and it has also affected the overall recovery of the labour market as its recovery is directly proportional to economic performance,” he said.

Mohd Uzir also said with all states in Phase Four of the PPN starting January 2022, business and social activities were able to operate at full capacity and more travel activities within the country and abroad were also seen during that month.

He said the positive development signalled that the labour market was expected to continue to improve in the coming months, but this did not take into account the challenges of new and more dangerous Covid-19 variants. ― Bernama