Malaysia’s unemployment rate highest in over 30 years

Despite the record unemployment rate, there are signs of economic recovery in the Southeast Asian country.
By: | July 14, 2020

Malaysia’s unemployment rate rose to 5.3% in May, the highest figure it has seen since 1989 when it hit 5.7%, the Statistics Department announced on July 14. 

The Southeast Asian country is still reeling from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic which saw its economy and businesses ground to a halt.

And the number of people who are unemployed have hit a record 826,100, a 47,300 increase from April.

READ: 87% of Malaysians feel they are not skilled enough to stay employed

But the department’s chief statistician Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin said the drop in the monthly spike of unemployed persons in May compared to 168,300 in April is a sign of an economic recovery.

“The economic indicators for May 2020 showed improvement as compared to April 2020 and these signalled that the economy is gradually improving. Following this, despite the continuous negative trend in the labour supply up to May 2020, this situation has improved considerably as compared to April 2020,” he said.

“It is expected that as the recovery movement control order (RMCO) took effect on June 10 onwards, the business conditions would gradually recover as more sectors are allowed to open with strict standard operating procedures. The implementation may allow businesses to regain their momentum, while new business opportunities emerge as demand changes amidst the new norm.

“This in turn is expected to retain employment, create new jobs and spur hiring. With this development, in the short term, labour force situation in June is expected to improve slightly while in the medium term up to the second half of 2020, further progress is deemed possible. Through various initiatives by the government, in addition to new creative businesses models innovated, the labour market may find its way to a recovery path.”

Malaysia’s labour force in May rose by 1,800 persons to 15.71 million people from a month earlier. And year-on-year, it has recorded an increase of 71,700 persons, he added.

“The labour force participation rate in May 2020 stood at 68.1%, registering a decline of 0.1 percentage point month-on-month as outflows into outside labour force continued to increase,” he said.