March jobless rate in Malaysia spikes to 610,500

Army Forces personnels patrolling at the entrance to Taman Sri Murni during the movement control order (MCO) recently. AZMAN GHANI / The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia reported a 17.1% increase in unemployed persons to 610,500 in March this year, the fallout from the Movement Control Order (MCO) as the government sought to minimise the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a statement issued on Friday, Chief Statistician Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin said this increase when compared with 521,300 a year ago was due to the adverse impact of the MCO.

“The unemployment rate in March 2020 increased to 3.9%, ” he said in a statement. “The highest unemployment rate in the country was recorded at 7.4%.”

The statement contained key statistics of the labour force in March and labour force survey report in the first quarter which provide statistics on labour force, employment and unemployment obtained from the Labour Force Survey (LFS).

He said the labour force in March fell by 0.2% to 15.84 million persons from February 2020.

During the same period, employed persons decreased by 0.7% to 15.23 million persons. Out of the number, 2.81 million were own account workers such as small traders/ entrepreneurs (pasar tani/ night market/ catering/ freelancers etc) who earn daily income/ wages.

“They were exposed to the risk of unemployment and work loss that can affect income during the MCO because partly were unable to work or run their business.

“Meanwhile, there was a significant increase in the number of employed persons who were working less than 30 hours per week to 1.12 million persons as compared to 366,300 persons recorded in February 2020.

“The labour force participation rate (LFPR) declined by 0.1 percentage point from 68.7% in February 2020 to 68.6% in March 2020 after recording the highest LFPR in January 2020 (68.9%), ” he said.

First quarter 2020

Mohd Uzir said the unemployment rate in 1Q 2020 increased to 3.5% from 3.2% in 4Q 2019 was due to the sharp increase in unemployment rate in March 2020.

“The unemployment rate was the highest ever recorded since the second quarter of 2017. The number of unemployed was 546,600 persons, increased 5.8% as compared to the same quarter last year.

“Out of the total number of unemployed, graduate unemployment accounted for 29.3%. The increase in the unemployment rate can be attributed to the negative impacts caused by the MCO.

“The unemployment category for the youth age group of 15 to 30 years recorded the highest unemployment rate (6.9%) followed by 31 to 45 years (1.4%) and age group 46 to 64 (1.1%), ” he said.

He also said semi-skilled workers dominated the labour market by 59& followed by skilled workers 27.8% and low-skilled workers 13.2%. The number of employed persons with tertiary education increased by 1.9% to 4.53 million persons as compared to 4.43 million persons in 4Q 2019.

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