Malaysia's jobless rate up slightly

Working people: The Statistics Department said that in December 2016, 14,276,700 people were employed out of the country’s total labour force of 14,788,900.

PETALING JAYA: The country’s unemployment rate has inched up by 0.1 percentage points to 3.5% in December 2016 compared to the previous month, according to the Statistics Department.

On a year-on-year comparison, the unemployment rate was also up 0.1 percentage point from December 2015.

On a seasonally adjusted month-on-month basis, however, the department noted that the unemployment rate had decreased 0.1 percentage points to 3.5%.

It said that in December 2016, 14,276,700 people were employed out of the country’s total labour force of 14,788,900, while 512,000 were unemployed.

Malaysia’s total labour force participation rate fell 0.1 percentage points to 67.6% in December 2016, compared to the previous month.

A year-on-year comparison showed that the labour force participation rate in December 2016 was down 0.3 percentage points compared to December 2015.

In a statement yesterday, the department noted that 32.4% or 7,072,800 of the country’s working age population, which is between the ages 15 and 64 years, were outside the labour force, mainly consisting of housewives, students, retired or disabled persons and those not interested in working.

Last month, Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Richard Riot said the country’s unemployment rate was still “manageable” and unlikely to exceed 3.5% this year despite the global economic slowdown.

Meanwhile, Maybank Investment Bank Research has estimated that the country’s real GDP growth for the fourth quarter of 2016 was 4.7% year-on-year, indicating a 4.3% full-year growth. It noted in a report yesterday that this number was slightly above its full-year estimate of 4.2%.

The research house said the estimate was based on the fact that during the quarter, industrial production growth quickened, index of services slowed, the drop in palm oil output eased – pointing to smaller contraction in the agriculture sector – while growth in the value of construction works moderated.

Affin Hwang Capital Research raised its real GDP growth estimate to 4.5% for the quarter, against its earlier estimate of 4.3%, based on better than expected quarter four 2016 industrial and manufacturing production. For 2016, the research house expects real GDP growth to average at around 4.3%, compared to 5% in 2015.

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