Labour market remains in tight spot

Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin

KUCHING: Malaysia’s labour market is foreseen to remain in a challenging situation in the earlier part of this year.

This is attributed mainly to the continuous spike in positive Covid-19 cases, exceeding an average of 3,200 cases daily in January.

The impact of the pandemic to the labour market, however, is expected to be cushioned by the various assistance and initiatives introduced by the government, according to the Statistics of Labour Force December 2020 report released today.

To balance the economic momentum and healthcare system, the report said most business activities are allowed to continue their operation as usual albeit under a strict compliance of the standard operating procedures (SOPs).

Operations of certain activities such as social gathering, cinemas and entertainment, and recreational activities would remain restricted.

Chief Statistician of the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM), Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin said in December last year, unemployment increased to 772.9 thousand persons with a rate of 4.8 percent.

“During the last month of 2020, the conditional movement control order (CMCO) was lifted for almost all states except for the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Sabah with interstate travels being allowed starting Dec 7.

Although the number of new Covid-19 cases exceeded an average of 1,500 cases per day, the economic activities continued to operate with adherence to strict SOPs. 

“Thus, in December last year, the number of employed persons edged up month-on-month by 0.1 percent or equivalent to 193,000 persons to 15.22 million persons after registering a marginal decrease in the previous month.”

Dr Mohd Uzir said the employment-to-population ratio which indicated the ability of an economy to create employment was unchanged at 65.1 percent.

In the economic sector, he said employed persons in services continued its increasing trend largely in wholesale and retail trade, human health and social work, communication and information, and education activities.

“However, the employment in tourism related industry such as accommodation and food services, transports and storage, arts and entertainment, and recreational activities remained on a declining trend, reflecting the consequences of the pandemic to this industry.”

Dr Mohd Uzir said during the same period, employment in the manufacturing sectors continued to record a positive growth.

Agriculture, mining and quarrying sectors, however, continued to be in the negative trend for the fifth month.

He said own-account workers which accounted for 15.8 percent continued to decrease for the third month by 0.6 percent to 2.40 million persons during the same period under review.

“This group comprises daily wage earners working at farmers’ markets, night markets and stalls; freelancers; as well as smallholders.

Dr Mohd Uzir said as the country experienced a slower labour demand in 2020 due to the adverse impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the unemployed persons recorded an increase of more than 200,000.

The health crisis has given a huge impact to the labour force which led the unemployment rate reached above 4.0 percent as against an average of 3.0 percent recorded in the pre-crisis period, he added.

As such, he said the unemployment rate rose up to 4.5 percent in 2020, the highest rate recorded since 1993 (4.1 percent).

Towards the end of 2020, Malaysia has passed the 100,000 mark of the recorded Covid-19 cases on Dec 24.

On another development, Dr Mohd Uzir said following the implementation of the movement control order (MCO) announced by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on Jan 11, the second phase of the Malaysia Population and Housing Census 2020 via face-to-face interview would be rescheduled.

He therefore urged those who had yet to complete the census to fill in the online census (e-Census) which would be reopened.

Further information on the Malaysia Census 2020 can be obtained through the census portal or social media @MyCensus2020.