Number of unemployed persons down to 580,700 in 2023, says Stats Dept

PUTRAJAYA: The number of unemployed persons dropped to 580,700 in 2023, the lowest since the pandemic, while the unemployment rate stood at 3.4 per cent, according to the Labour Market Review, Fourth Quarter 2023 released by the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM) on Friday (Feb 23).

Chief Statistician Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin, in a statement, said this reflected the improving economic developments throughout the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2023, with the labour force participation rate rising 0.6 per cent year-on-year, maintaining a high rate of 70.1 per cent compared to the previous quarter.

"The labour force increased by 2.2 per cent to record 16.91 million persons in Q4, primarily driven by the rise of 2.5 per cent in employed persons, which accounted for 16.35 million persons,” he said.

He further said that higher domestic demand has created a favourable environment for industries, resulting in increased production that is attributed to the expansion of the economy of nearly all sectors.

"This eventually contributes to a strengthened demand for labour despite the challenging external environment.

"Therefore, Malaysia’s economy grew by three per cent in the Q4 2023, slightly lower than 3.3 per cent from the preceding quarter,” he said.

Commenting on the underemployment situation, Mohd Uzir said the number of persons who worked less than 30 hours per week increased by 6.6 per cent compared to Q4 2022, with a total of 286,100 persons.

On the other hand, skill-related underemployment, which indicated those with tertiary education but were employed in semi-skilled and low-skilled occupation categories, increased by 2.4 per cent year-on-year to record 1.94 million persons with a rate of 37.4 per cent or comprised more than one-third of employed persons with tertiary education.

In the meantime, he said Malaysia’s labour demand continued to improve during the quarter, indicated by 0.6 per cent growth in the number of jobs created to meet industry needs, encompassing 31,100 jobs.

Commenting on the overall performance of the labour market for 2023, Mohd Uzir said preliminary estimates based on monthly average data showed that the number of employed persons increased by six per cent to 16.31 million (2022: 3.1 per cent; 15.39 million).

He said the labour force also expanded by 5.4 per cent to 16.89 million persons, whereas the participation rate went up by 0.7 percentage points to 70 per cent.

Despite facing external challenges in 2023, labour demand strengthened as jobs in the economic sector increased to 8.94 million.

"A total of 126,500 jobs were created in 2023, surpassing the figures recorded in 2022 (116,700) and 2021 (69,500),” the statement read.

Meanwhile, Mohd Uzir said Malaysia’s economy is expected to improve in 2024, driven by resilient domestic expenditure and recovery in external demand.

Under those circumstances, the labour market is expected to remain stable in the upcoming quarter, corresponding to the current economic developments and technological advances resulting from high-value investments supported by ongoing government initiatives.- Bernama

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