Malaysia, Most Unemployment in 2020

Malaysia, Most Unemployment in 2020

Dr M: Those unemployed due to MCO must consider picking up in-demand jobs

On July 14th, it was reported that Malaysia’s unemployment rate has risen to an all time high in 2020 and has reached 5.3 % in May and as of May there are 826,100 jobless.

DOSM figures showed the number of unemployed has grown from 610.500  to 778,800 from March to April 2020. That’s an increase of 168,300. From April to May, there’s another 47,300 persons added to the unemployed list.

Between April to May, the number of unemployed seemed to have slowed at only 47,300 compared to March – April of about 168,300. This could largely be attributed to the economic stimulus packages given out by the government (as suggested by Malaysia’s chief statistician Datuk Seri Mohd Uzir Mahidin).

He also noted that these numerous packages have reached the intended recipient target group and also more businesses were allowed to start operating when the conditional movement control order (CMCO) kicked in during May.

Malaysia’s MCO started on 18th March due to the severe Cov 19 pandemic where most non-essential businesses were being ordered to close temporarily. On May 4, CMCO was being implemented with most businesses being allowed to re-open again.

How May unemployment figures compare to the past decades

Comparing past 4 decades unemployment figures, this year 2020 May unemployment rate was 5.3 %. About 30 years ago, it was 5.6 % in 1985 and 5.7% in 1989.

Hence May 2020 of employment numbers at 826,100 have surpassed all the previous years since 1982.

Overall, the Malaysian labour force has grown to 15.71 million persons in May which is up marginally by 1800 persons more compared to in April. That’s about 71,700 more people in the workforce when comparing May 2020 numbers with last year May 2019.

In May, there were more employed being temporarily out of work, as there were 4.87 million being employed in April and dropped to about 2.27 million being employed in May.

The number of employed has fallen by 0.3 % from 14.93 million (April 2020) to 14.89 million (May 2020). The most affected are the services sectors (mainly tourism, accommodation, event planning, arts and entertainment, sports and recreational activities).

Less were being employed in the construction sector as it was very much affected by increased detection of Cov19 among many foreign workers.

Employment to population ratio has dropped by 0.4 % points. Hence, this shows that only about 64.4 % of the Malaysian population are gainfully employed.

Self-employed persons also dropped from 2.59 million in April to 2.42 million in May.

Self-employed refers to gig workers, many being wage earners working in farmers’ markets, night markets and stalls; freelancers; as well as smallholders.

As Malaysia is still in CMCO level, which restricts business operation from running its usual 100% capacity. Hence this group of workers will continue to face higher risk of job & income losses.

Outlook for 2020

There seems to be optimism moving forward in the later months of year 2020.

RMCO took effect on 10th June and there seems to be improvement in business conditions. More sectors have been allowed to open but under strict standard operating procedures. This implementation will allow businesses to regain momentum and will spark new business opportunities as demand changes with this new norm due to the severe cov19 pandemic. It’s hoped that this will possibly retain employment and create new jobs in new industries and spur hiring.

Govt initiatives to boost the labour market could assist to create new biz models & innovation and will eventually find its way to the path of recovery.

On a positive note, in the short term, the labour force in June should improve slightly. In the mid-end of 2020, more progress is still likely possible.

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