The jobless rate in Malaysia eased to 4.7% in March and is seen around 4.0% by year-end, suggested Senior Economist at UOB Group Julia Goh and Economist Loke Siew Ting.
“The nation’s unemployment rate moderated for the second straight month to 4.7% in Mar (from 4.8% in Feb). It was mainly due to the relaxation of COVID-19 containment measures during the month. The number of unemployed people reduced by 24.3k or 3.1% m/m to 753.2k (Feb: -5k or -0.6% m/m to 777.5k), while the labour force participation rate rose to a one-year high of 68.6% (Feb: 68.5%).”
“Total employment gained the most in seven months by 58.7k or 0.4% m/m to 15.33m persons (Feb: +33.3k or +0.2% m/m to 15.27m). It was primarily lifted by the continued hiring in services, manufacturing and construction sectors amid encouraging signs of turnaround in selected economic activities while the domestic vaccine program is being rolled-out. Meanwhile, employment in the agriculture and mining & quarrying sectors remained on a downtrend.”
“Despite signs of stabilisation in the labour market since late 2020, the retightening of Movement Control Order (MCO 3.0) in targeted areas this month is expected to pose short-term hurdles to the nascent recovery of the labour market over the next few months. Given that most economic sectors are allowed to operate, with ongoing support from the government’s hiring and upskilling initiatives, this will help prevent a steeper fallout on employment. We reiterate our 2021 year-end unemployment rate forecast of 4.0% (BNM forecast: 4.0%-5.0%; end-2020: 4.8%).”
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