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Unemployment rate rises to 3.5% in 1Q 2020, highest since 2Q2017

KUALA LUMPUR (May 8): The unemployment rate in Malaysia rose to 3.5 per cent in the first quarter (1Q) of this year from 3.2 per cent in 4Q 2019 -- the highest since 2Q2017, said the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DoSM).

Chief statistician Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin said the high unemployment rate was mainly attributed to the adverse impact of the Movement Control Order (MCO) on the labour market.

He said the number of unemployed was estimated at 546,600, up 5.8 per cent compared to the same quarter last year.

Meanwhile, the labour force and employed persons in the country grew 1.7 per cent and 1.6 per cent to 15.79 million and 15.24 million persons, respectively, compared to 1Q 2019.

“Quarter-on-quarter comparison showed that labour force increased at the slower rate of 0.1 per cent, while employed persons decreased 0.1 per cent compared to the previous quarter,”  Mohd Uzir said in a statement today.

He said the labour force participation rate (LFPR) declined 0.3 percentage points to 68.8 per cent in 1Q2020 compared to Q4 2019, while the working age population outside the labour force was 31.2 per cent.

Female LFPR in 1Q2020 was 55.8 per cent, declining 0.3 percentage points compared to the previous quarter, with the highest female LFPR in the labour market were the age group of 25-34 years (75.4 per cent), followed by 35-44 years (68.4 per cent) and 45-54 years (58.5 per cent).

Male LFPR decreased by 0.3 percentage points to 80.1 per cent compared to the previous quarter and the age group that recorded the highest male LFPR were in the age group of 35-44 years (97.5 per cent) followed by 25-34 years (96.5 per cent) and 45-54 years (94.7 per cent).

For monthly comparisons, the unemployment rate in March 2020 increased to 3.9 per cent, the highest since June 2010 (3.6 per cent), reflecting the negative impact of the MCO on the labour market.

Mohd Uzir said unemployed persons increased 17.1 per cent to 610,500 in March 2020 compared to 521,300 in corresponding month of 2019.

The LFPR declined 0.1 percentage points to 68.6 per cent in March 2020 from 68.7 per cent in February 2020 after recording the highest LFPR in January 2020 (68.9 per cent).

Mohd Uzir said the number of labour force in March 2020 decreased 0.2 per cent to 15.84 million persons compared to February 2020, while employed persons decreased 0.7 per cent to 15.23 million persons.

“The working population in March 2020 was 15.23 million, of them, 2.81 million were own account workers such as traders or small traders.

“These group of workers were exposed to the risk of unemployment and work losses that affect their income during the MCO, partly due inability to work,” he said.

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