Uneven labour demand recovery persists amid prolonged lockdown

Total jobs have decreased further by 0.9% in 2Q21 versus 0.4% in 1Q21 

by ANIS HAZIM / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

MALAYSIA’S total jobs in the economic sector decreased by 0.4% to 8.35 million in the second quarter of 2021 (2Q21) compared to 8.38 million jobs in 2Q20. 

According to the Department of Statistics Malaysia data, total jobs have decreased further by 0.9% in 2Q21 versus 0.4% in 1Q21. 

“This indicates uneven recovery momentum in labour demand following the impact of prolonged health crisis and containment measures imposed since March 2020,” chief statistician Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin said in a statement yesterday. 

He said the rise of Covid-19 new daily cases during the quarter and stringent containment measures implemented since the middle of May have led to limited business operating hours and only essential services are permitted to operate. 

“These subsequently were reflected by the decrease of 0.5% in filled jobs which recorded 8.17 million jobs in 2Q21, from 8.21 million in 2Q20. 

“In this quarter, the number of job vacancies in the economic sector was 178,000 and went up by 5% due to the low base number recorded in 2Q20 with 169,500,” he noted. 

The number of job vacancies remained lower than an average of 200,000 job vacancies recorded during the pre-crisis period. 

Both rates of filled jobs and job vacancies during the quarter remained at 97.9% and 2.1%, respectively. 

Mohd Uzir said almost all sectors indicated a downward trend, except for the manufacturing sector, which posted an increase of 0.9% to 2.16 million jobs. 

“More than half of filled jobs were concentrated in the services sector (52.4%), followed by manufacturing (26.4%) and construction (14.9%). 

“The remaining 6.3% were in agriculture and mining and quarrying sectors,” he added. 

In the skill category, filled jobs for semi-skilled and low-skilled occupations also declined by 0.4% and 2%, respectively, while skilled jobs increased marginally by 0.1% as compared to 2Q20. 

The overall labour demand in the economic sector in 2Q21 remained on a declining trend as business operations had yet to be fully resumed in normalcy following the current public health crisis. 

“The economic stimulus packages and initiatives implemented by the government may ease the burden of businesses and subsequently enable employment to be retained in the economy,” Mohd Uzir stated. 

He further said that the positive development of the vaccination rate as targeted in the National Recovery Plan would enable businesses to gain more promising impact and lift up the recovery momentum of labour demand in Malaysia. 

Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M Saravanan expected the country’s labour market position to improve in 2Q21 with the unemployment rate estimated at 4.6%. 

He said the labour market position in 1Q21 indicated a stable recovery, based on a quarterly labour market report by EIS-UP-MCS Centre for Future Labour Market Studies. 

“This stability was supported by a decline in the job loss rate among private-sector workers which declined by 12%,” Saravanan said in a statement. 

He said the implementation of the Movement Control Order in 1Q21 did not affect the labour market as the implementation was more targeted. 

“Some segments of the labour market are still affected and in the early phases of recovery, particularly the informal and tourism sectors,” Saravanan added. 

The report found the job market recovery for 1Q21 took “trapezoid” form, reflecting a trend of persistent imbalance between job seekers and job opportunities. 

It showed the country’s labour market situation has not changed from 4Q20, where there is an excess supply of workers compared to the existing vacancies. 

Jobs for the professional, manager, executive and technician category are projected to grow slowly compared to the number of job seekers for the same category.