Malaysia, Department of Statistics, Labour Report, Employment, Unemployment, Labour Force

At the same time, Malaysia also observed a further decline of 1.3% (or 8,600 persons), in the number of unemployed persons in February 2022.

Malaysia observed a month-on-month increase of 0.3%, or an approximate increase of 44,800, in employed persons in February 2022, maintaining its continuous improvement. With this growth, the number of employed persons increased to 15.73mn persons, up from 15.69mn persons in January 2022.  

As for the year-on-year comparison by the Department of Statistics (DOSM), the number of employed persons rose by 3%, or 460,300 persons. In February 2021, the number of employed persons stood at 15.27mn.

By sector, the growth in the number of employed persons in the services sector persisted largely in food & beverages services, wholesale & retail trade, and transportation & storage activities. Similarly, employment in manufacturing and construction sectors also noted increases.

In contrast, agriculture and mining & quarrying sectors continued to record a reduction in the number of employed persons.

In February, the employment-to-population ratio, which indicates the ability of an economy to create employment, edged up by 0.1 percentage point (pp) to record a total of 66.3%. For comparison, January 2022 was noted at 66.2%. Similarly, the ratio went up by 1.1% year-on-year as against February 2021 (65.2%).

The employee’s category, which had consistently made up the largest composition of employed persons, comprised a share of 76.6%, registering a month-on-month rise of 0.1%, or 17,300 persons, totaling 12.05mn persons (January 2022: 12.03mn persons). 

A similar trend was observed in the own-account workers' category which maintained its growth with an addition of 0.7% (+18,600 persons) to register 2.67mn persons (January 2022: 2.66mn persons). This category consists mostly of daily income earners working as small business operators such as retailers; hawkers; sellers in markets and stalls; as well as smallholders.

During the month, the number of employed persons who were temporarily not working continued to decline, with a reduction of 4,500 persons. Through this 4.8% decline, the number of persons dropped to 89,000 persons from 93,500 persons in January 2022. Year-on-year, this category remained its decline with a decrease of 61,800 persons. In February 2021, it was noted at 150,800 persons. This group of persons, who were most likely not able to work, were not categorised as unemployed as they had work to return to.

Unemployment rate dropped to 4.1%

The month of February also observed a further decline of 1.3%, or 8,600 persons, in the number of unemployed persons, recording a total of  671,800 persons. In comparison, the number was noted as 680,400 persons in January 2022. Accordingly, February’s unemployment rate edged down to 4.1% (January 2022: 4.2%).

Taking a year-on-year comparison, the number of unemployed persons declined by 105,700 persons (13.6%) from 777, 500 thousand in February 2021. In the meantime, the unemployment rate dropped by 0.7pp as compared to 4.8% in February 2021.

By unemployment category, those actively unemployed or those who were available for work and were actively seeking jobs comprised 83.7% of the total unemployed persons. The number in this category reduced by 1.2% (-7,000 thousand persons) to record 562,500 persons (January 2022: 569,500 persons).

Those unemployed for less than three months encompassed 56.7% of the total actively unemployed, while those who were in long-term unemployment of more than a year made up a share of 7.3%. On the other hand, those who believed that there were no jobs available or were inactively unemployed dipped by 1.4% (-1,600 persons) to 109,300 persons (January 2022: 110,900 persons).

In February 2022, the unemployment rate for youth aged 15 to 24 years posted a decrease of 0.2pp to 13% with the number of unemployed youths lessened by 7,500 persons, or 2.1% to record 356,900 persons. This group was noted at 364,500 in January 2022. Likewise, the unemployment rate for youth aged 15 to 30 years diminished by 0.2pp to 8.1%, registering a lower number of unemployed persons at 513,700 persons (January 2022: 8.3%; 521, 800 persons).

Labour force participation rate remained at 69.1%

In February 2022, the number of labour force continued to register a month-on-month increase, rising by 0.2%, amounting to 36,300 persons, recording 16.40mn persons (January 2022: 16.37mn persons). The labour force participation rate (LFPR) remained unchanged at 69.1%.

The number of labour force recorded a rise of 354, 500 persons or 2.2% in comparison to February 2021 (16.05mn persons). Subsequently, the LFPR climbed by 0.6pp as against 68.5% (February 2021).

In February 2022, there was an increase in both males and females in the labour force, recording 10.08mn persons (January 2022: 10.05mn persons) and 6.32mn persons (January 2022: 6.31mn persons) respectively. Subsequently, the male LFPR ascended to 82%, whereas female LFPR stood at 55.3%.

On a year-on-year basis, the male LFPR escalated by 1pp (February 2021: 81%), similar to the female LFPR, which grew by 0.2pp as compared to 55.1% in February 2021.

During the month, the number of persons outside the labour force remained on a decreasing trend with a reduction of 11,400 persons (-0.2%) to register 7.32mn persons (January 2022: 7.33mn persons). Similarly, the number of outside labour force dropped by 50,700 persons (-0.7%) year-on-year (February 2021: 7.37mn persons). The major composition of the outside labour force was due to housework/ family responsibilities (41.7%) and subsequently, 40.9% comprised those undergoing schooling/training.

A total of 322,177 employers benefitted from wage subsidies as of 18 March

Apart from the above, DOSM shared that to aid employers in ensuring employees are able to retain their jobs, the Wage Subsidy Programme (PSU) has benefitted a total of 322,177 employers and 2.64mn registered employees with an approved wage subsidy at RM12.96bn as of 18 March 2022. 

Similarly, the SMEs Soft Loan Funds by Bank Negara Malaysia also benefitted a total of 26,379 SMEs, with a value of RM12.59bn as of 25 March 2022.

Other government initiatives include the Malaysia Short-Term Employment Programme (MySTEP) and the Indian Community Entrepreneur Development Scheme (SPUMI).

Concluding the report, DOSM also shared that, as of 6 April 2022, a total of 79.2% of Malaysia’s population are fully vaccinated, while the adolescent vaccination rate is 97.6%.

"The recovering economic situation in the first two months of 2022 was driven by encouraging economic activity, it added.

"This situation gives a positive signal to the labour market, thus encouraging more inclusion in the labour market and enabling the labour market to remain strong for the months to come," the Department noted.

Along with Malaysia's transition to an endemic phase, the reopening of the country's borders is also seen as a catalyst to revive the shortage of foreign labour in the country.


Lead image / Malaysia Department of Statistics

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