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Malaysia April unemployment rate spikes to 5% — highest since 1990

KUALA LUMPUR (June 15): Malaysia’s unemployment rate in April 2020 spiked to 5% — the highest since 1990 — as unemployed persons went up 48.8% year-on-year (y-o-y) to 778,800 persons.

In a statement, Chief Statistician Malaysia Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin said the closure of operations for most businesses during the Movement Control Order (MCO) has impacted employment and job seekers could hardly find jobs.

He said in April 2020, the working population decreased by 156.4 thousand persons (-1.0%) y-o-y to 14.93 million persons. The most affected employed persons were in the manufacturing and services sectors, namely accommodation and food & beverage; arts, entertainment & recreation and other services such as beauty centres and salons.

Mohd Uzir said month-on-month, the working population decreased by 299,000 (-2.0%) as compared to the previous month (March 2020: 15.23 million persons).

He said according to the survey, there were 2.59 million own account workers in April 2020, largely comprising traders/small traders (farmer’s market/night markets/catering/stalls/freelancers) smallholders, tour operators, including umrah and tour operators and others.

He said these groups of workers were exposed to the risk of job and income losses following the MCO.

“From the survey, the MCO has affected 4.87 million employed persons who were not working in April 2020.

“However, this group of people was not categorised as unemployed as they have work to return to,” he said.

Mohd Uzir said the labour force grew marginally by 0.6% (up 99,100 persons) to 15.71 million persons in April 2020, the lowest growth since September 2014.

Meanwhile, he said overall, all sectors of the economy were affected during the Phase 2 and 3 of the MCO in April 2020, especially non-essential services.

He said Malaysia’s labour market in May 2020 is expected to be further affected following the Conditional MCO starting May 5, 2020 as businesses were still not fully in operation.

“During this period, companies will have the tendency to reduce the [number] of employees to ease the burden of operating costs despite predicting a decline in their business revenue.

“Recovery MCO (RMCO) kicked off on June 10, 2020, where reactivation of businesses for more sectors and inter-state travels are allowed.

“These are predicted to spur businesses and steer the improvement of the job market, especially in the travel and tourism related industries,” he said.

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