Malaysia’s unemployment rate rises to 5% in April as Covid-19 takes toll

Chief statistician Mohd Uzir Mahidin says the closure of most businesses during the MCO resulted in the loss of jobs for many. (Bernama pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s unemployment rate in April spiked to 5% as the number of people out of jobs went up to 778,800, or 48.8%, compared to a year ago.

Chief statistician Mohd Uzir Mahidin said the closure of operations for most businesses during the movement control order (MCO) resulted in the loss of employment, and job seekers could hardly find jobs.

He said the labour force in April recorded a marginal growth of 0.6%, or 99,100 persons, to 15.71 million, the lowest growth since September 2014.

On a month-on-month basis, the labour force decreased 0.8%, or 130,700 persons, compared to March.

“In April, the working population decreased 156,400 persons (-1%) year-on-year to 14.93 million persons,” he said when releasing the “Key Statistics of Labour Force, Malaysia, April 2020”, whjich provides figures on labour force, employment and unemployment obtained from the Labour Force Survey (LFS).

Uzir said the most affected employed persons were those in the manufacturing and services sectors, especially accommodation and food and beverage; arts, entertainment and recreation; and other services such as beauty centres and salons.

“Month-on-month, the number of working population decreased 299,000 (-2%) as compared to March 2020, which recorded 15.23 million persons,” he said.

According to the survey, there were 2.59 million “persons’ own account” workers in April mainly comprising traders and small traders (farmer’s market, night markets, catering, stalls, freelancers), smallholders and tour operators, including umrah and tour operators.

“These groups of workers were exposed to the risk of job and income losses following the MCO.

“From the survey, MCO has affected 4.87 million employed persons who were not working in April. However, this group of people was not categorised as unemployed as they have work to return to,” he said.

Overall, Uzair said, all sectors of the economy were affected during Phase 2 and 3 of MCO in April, especially for the non-essential services.

“Malaysia’s labour market in May 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 size of their employees to ease the burden of the operating costs as they had predicted a decline in their business revenue,” he said.

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