With the implementation of Malaysia's Movement Control Order (MCO) in March 2020, the number of people in time-related underemployment rose to 383,200 (or 2.5% from the total employed people) in Q1 2020, up from 212,400 (or 1.4% of the total employed persons) in Q4 2019.

Subsequently, with the continuous phases of the MCO in place, where several economic activities were allowed to operate with strict standard operating procedures in Q2 this year, the number of people in time-related underemployment rose to, 413,500 people (2.8%).

However, this number decreased to 300,800 (2.0%) in Q3 following the implementation of the Recovery MCO, where businesses could operate for longer hours, a newly-launched indicator under the Department of Statistics Malaysia's (DOSM) latest Key Statistics of Labour Force Malaysia has revealed. 

According to DOSM, the underemployment indicator provides insights into the country's labour supply situation by looking at the employed people who lacked of hours worked or in inadequate forms of work which can be measured by time-related underemployment and skill-related underemployment.

Employment continued to grow at a slower pace

priya nov 2020 dosm chart 1 employment

Employment in Malaysia continued to grow at a slower pace in September 2020 (0.3%), as compared to the month before (0.5%), with 15.19mn people employed (August: 15.15mn).

Meanwhile, when compared on a year-on-year basis, the number of employed people continued to be on the decline, at -0.2% (September 2019: 15.23mn). 

Zooming in on sectors, services and manufacturing, which were the main contributors of the economy, recorded an increase in employment in September versus August. For the services sector, the increase was largely in wholesale & retail trade and accommodation and food & beverages as well as education activities.

Breaking down the data into employment status, the number of people in the employee category rose by 14,900 to record 11.73mn, as compared to August.

At the same time, own-account workers continued to increase by 0.7% to register 2.43mn people (August 2020: 2.42mn people). 

Unemployment rate dropped to 4.6%

priya nov 2020 dosm chart 3 unemployment

Apart from the above, the country observed a 0.1pp drop in its unemployment rate from August to September 2020, standing at 4.6% in the later month.

Further, the number of unemployed people declined by 0.6% to record 737,500 people (August 2020: 741,600 people).

That said, y-o-y, the unemployment rate for September 2020 increased 1.3pp as compared to September 2019, with the number of unemployed people registering an increase of 216,100 (September 2019: 521,400 people). 

Overall, the number of actively unemployed people comprised of more than 80% of the total of unemployed people in September 2020, with the largest group being unemployed for less than three months (49.2%).

Photo / DOSM

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