PETALING JAYA: Malaysia’s labour force situation improved in March as the number of people employed rose by 0.2% or 34,300 persons to 16.08 million from 16.05 million in February.
The Statistics Department said yesterday there was a higher labour force participation rate (LFPR) at 68.6% (February 2021: 68.5%).
“During the month, the number of employed persons continued to increase by 0.4% (+58,700 persons) to 15.33 million persons (February 2021: 15.27 million persons), ” it said.
Consequently, the March unemployment rate declined by 0.1 percentage point from February 2021 to record 4.7%.
The number of unemployed persons declined by 24,400 persons to record 753,200 persons (February 2021: 777,500 persons).
Unlike the first movement control order (MCO) which was implemented on March 18,2020 where most economic activities as well as national and interstate borders were closed, March this year saw most states in the recovery MCO phase, while several others were in the conditional MCO stage, with most of the economic activities operating in compliance with strict standard operating procedures.
“Hence, the labour force situation in March 2021 continued to improve month-on-month (m-o-m) with an increase in the number of employed persons while unemployment posted a larger decrease, ” said chief statistician Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin in a statement.
Mohd Uzir said since April 2020, the number of employed persons was on a year-on-year (y-o-y) declining trend but for the first time after 11 consecutive months, the number of employed persons registered a positive y-o-y growth of 0.6% (96,900 persons).
He explained that the employment-to-population ratio which indicates the ability of an economy to create employment was 65.4% (February 2021: 65.2%).
In terms of status of employment, the employee’s category which comprised of 77.9% of employed persons was added by 76,800 persons to record 11.95 million persons in March (February 2021: 11.87 million persons). A similar trend was also observed in own-account workers, which comprised 16.2% of employed persons, improved by 48,300 persons to register 2.48 million persons in March (February 2021: 2.43 million persons).
“The increase was in line with the permission for small businesses such as retailers, food stalls and hawkers to resume, ” he said.
By economic sector, the number of employed persons in services continued to increase in March 2021 primarily in wholesale and retail trade, food and beverage services, education, human health and social work activities as well as in the manufacturing and construction sectors. However, employment in the agriculture and mining and quarrying sectors remained on a declining trend.
For the first quarter of 2021, Mohd Uzir said the labour force continued to improve in response to the sign of economic recovery, registering 16.01 million persons.
“Further recovery in the Malaysian labour force may be more certain with the resumption of most business activities coupled with the expansion of the Covid-19 vaccination programme to a larger community
“Nevertheless, this positive momentum will be subject to the uncertainties in the country’s health condition and subsequently the economic performance, ” he pointed out. “The rising number of daily Covid-19 cases in Malaysia had prompted the implementation of restricted MCOs in targeted areas and MCO in certain states, namely, Kelantan, Sabah, Selangor and Kuala Lumpur in May 2021
“These signalled that the labour force may face some challenges in the forthcoming months. However, with the encouraging labour market improvement observed in the first quarter, it is hoped that the labour market will continue its recovery momentum albeit at a moderate pace, ” he said.