PETALING JAYA: There was a slight increase in the labour force and its participation rate last year, statistics show.
According to the Department of Statistics Malaysia, the labour force increased by 2% to nearly 15.3 million workers compared with 2017.
The participation rate – the proportion of people of working age who are actually employed – increased marginally to 68.3% in 2018, the department said in its Labour Force Survey Report 2018 that was released yesterday.
The statistics also showed that female labour force participation rate increased by 0.5% to 55.2% last year while the unemployment rate dipped slightly from 3.4% in 2017 to 3.3%.
“This shows that the country’s economy is still operating at full employment that is below 4.0%,” the report stated.
It added that some 48.4% of active unemployed persons managed to secure employment in less than three months.
“Another 29.3% of active unemployed persons secured employment in three to six months.
“This means that about 78% of active unemployed persons managed to secure employment within a six-month period,” stated the report.
It added that some 9.7% of active unemployed persons, however, remained unemployed for more than a year.
Meanwhile, there were about 7.09 million of those who are of working age but were outside the workforce in 2018.
The report said the main reasons for them not seeking work include schooling (42%) and family responsibilities (41.8%).
The Malaysian Trade Unions Congress (MTUC), meanwhile, said workers continued to suffer exploitation, especially in terms of wages.
MTUC secretary-general J. Solomon said the current minimum wage of RM1,100 was “woefully inadequate” and urged the government to fulfil its pledge of increasing the minimum wage.
“We implore the new government not to drag its feet over the promised reforms.
“There must be action, passion and most importantly, the political will to bring lost dignity back to the workers,” he said in his Labour Day message.
Solomon also urged the government to seriously consider the MTUC’s suggestion to raise the minimum wage to RM1,800 as it would be fair to the B40 group.
“The rise in the cost of living has become unmanageable and the lower income group is suffering enormously,” he said.
He added that exploitative work practices had become more common such as unfair and casual employment contract which denied workers trade union representation.