Unemployment rate improves to 4.8% in Feb


THE unemployment rate dropped to 4.8% in February this year compared to 4.9% in January with the number of unemployed persons declined by 5,000 persons or 0.6% to 777,500 persons (January: 782,500 persons).

Chief statistician Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin said the labour market continued to recover with encouraging signs of the economy as reflected by the Leading Index for January 2021 which posted year-on-year increase of 8.2%.

“Although the movement control order had been extended to February 18, 2021 in all states except for Sarawak, more businesses were allowed to operate with strict standard operating procedures encompassing all segments of the retail sector; sports & recreational activities; and other private services to ensure economic sustainability especially among small businesses.

“In addition, the first phase of the vaccination programme which started on February 24 this year provided some relief to the businesses and community,” he said in a statement.

The number of employed persons rose 33,300 persons month-on-month to 15.27 million persons (January 2021: 15.24 million persons), recording an upward trend for three consecutive months.

By economic sector, the number of employed persons in services sector continuously increased mainly in wholesale & retail trade; education and human health & social work activities while in tourism related industry remained on a declining trend.

The number of employed persons in the manufacturing and construction sectors stayed positive whereas the agriculture and mining & quarrying sectors recorded a reduction.

Mohd Uzir said the employed persons who were temporarily not working during the month reduced to 150,800 persons (January 2021: 158,900 persons).

“This group of persons, who were most likely not able to work was not categorised as unemployed as they had work to return to.

“The employment-to-population ratio which indicates the ability of an economy to create employment remained stagnant at 65.2% in February 2021,” he added.

The actively unemployed persons which is defined as persons who were available for work and were actively looking for job, reduced by 9,800 persons to record 647,400 persons (January 2021: 657,200 persons).

Those who were unemployed for less than three months accounted for 50.6% of the actively unemployed. Meanwhile, 11.3% of actively unemployed were in long-term unemployment of more than a year.

Concluding the overall labour force situation, Mohd Uzir said in spite of extension of the MCO and continued inter-state travel restriction, things are gradually improving since early March 2021.

In addition, he said the pre-primary and primary education sectors began to reopen in stages benefiting school related activities particularly school bus services, school canteens as well as stationery and book shops.

“This situation coupled with the resumption of more economic activities since February 2021 might encourage more demand in the economy and in turn will have a positive impact on the labour market.

“With the continuous economic recovery path, the labour demand may continue to expand marginally and the labour supply remains competitive,” he concluded.