KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s unemployment rate improved in May but the enhanced movement control order (EMCO) due to the Covid-19 pandemic could result in an uneven situation in the ensuing months.
The Statistics Department said the country’s unemployment in May was 4.5% or 728, 100 people - an improvement from the all-time high of 5.3% or 826, 100 unemployed persons a year ago.
When compared with April, the unemployment rate improved from 4.6% with 742, 700 unemployed then, according to the Statistics of Labour Force report, which was released yesterday.
Chief Statistician Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin said the unemployment rate had been on a downward trend since February this year.
However, due to the rise in infections, the government had in early May, put most states in conditional and recovery movement control order (MCO) phases. However, businesses continued to operate with compliance to standard operating procedures (SOPs).
Beginning May 6, Johor, Penang, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Sarawak were placed under MCO.
Prior to that, Kelantan was already under the MCO since end of April 2021.
Although stricter measures were imposed in these states, all economic activities including small businesses and bazaar were still allowed to operate.
Mohd Uzir said employed persons in May increased by 0.1% to 15.37 million persons (April 2021: 15.35 million persons). The employment-to-population ratio was unchanged at 65.4%.
By economic sector, the number of employed persons in services sector posted a month-on-month increase particularly in wholesale & retail trade; food & beverages services and human health & social work activities.
“The number of employed persons in the manufacturing sector also continued its positive growth for seven months. In the meantime, employed persons in construction, agriculture and mining & quarrying sectors declined, ” he said.
However, he said with new daily Covid-19 infections persistently above 6, 000 cases towards the end of June, the EMCO was implemented in certain localities in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor.
The EMCO was imposed starting from July 3 to 16 to mitigate the spike of new cases in those areas.
“Consequently, the labour market may be facing uneven situations in the ensuing months depending on the stage of the pandemic, ” he said.
However, Mohd Uzir pointed out efforts were underway to ensure more people are vaccinated under the National Covid-19 Vaccination Programme to guarantee that the country reach the objective of herd immunity by the end of the year.
Furthermore, various initiatives were introduced under the National People’s Well-Being and Economic Recovery Package (Pemulih) to support businesses and sustain employees in the labour market.
“Therefore, it is hoped that these measures will help the economic activities to gain its recovery momentum, thereby sustaining the labour market situation in the forthcoming months, ” he said.