Labour market expects marginal growth amid challenges

by HARIZAH KAMEL / pic by TMR

THE labour market is expected to grow marginally this year despite uncertainties presented by the global health crisis.

Department of Statistics Malaysia chief statistician Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin said while various phases of the Movement Control Order (MCO) 2.0 are being put in place nationwide, some relaxations for economic activities have been permitted with strict compliance to the standard operating procedures (SOPs)

“Continuous economic recovery initiatives and the national vaccination programme may relieve and reduce the burden of businesses, restoring and accelerating the revival of the labour market.”

The uneven situation of Malaysia’s labour force last year due to the pandemic had brought the unemployment to 4.5% for the first time after almost three decades from 3.3% in 2019.

Mohd Uzir said throughout 2020, the global labour market was in the dark, which led to job losses and reduced working hours 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% and 5.3%, and recorded an addition of more than 200,000 of unemployed persons.

Mohd Uzir said the labour force, which comprised employed and unemployed persons, augmented by 0.6% to record 15.7 million persons from 15.6 million persons in 2019.

Nevertheless, unlike the pre-crisis period, the increase in labour force during the year was attributed to a rising number of unemployed, while employment declined. Mohd Uzir said the number of unemployed persons increased by 39.9% to record 711,000 thousand last year from 508, 200 persons previously.

Out of this total, 72.3% was actively unemployed which increased by 40.4% to 514, 200 per-sons from 366, 200 persons in 2019.

All states recorded an increase in unemployment rate in 2020, with Sabah being the highest with 8%, followed by Labuan with 7.2% and Perak (4.8%).

Three states registered lower unemployment rates, namely Putrajaya (1.5%), Melaka (2.2%) and Pahang (3.1%).

Adding to this, the chief statistician said the number of employed persons decreased by 0.8% to 15 million persons against 15.1 million persons in 2019.

In terms of employment in the economic sector, most employed persons were concentrated in services at 64.5%, followed by manufacturing (16.7%) and agriculture (10.5%).

Meanwhile, employed persons in construction, and mining and quarrying sectors encompassed 7.8% and 0.5% respectively.