March Records Over 600,000 Malaysians Left Unemployed Due To MCO

After the Movement Control Order (MCO) was enforced in March, Malaysia's unemployment rate saw a sharp 0.6% increase in comparison to February 2020.

Cover image via World Bank & AFP via The Straits Times

The unemployment rate in Malaysia has reached a 10-year high, with over 600,000 individuals losing their jobs in March 2020

The data was released by the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM) in its Labour Force Statistics, Malaysia, March 2020 report today, 8 May.

The report noted that the current unemployment rate as of March 2020 stood at 3.9%, the highest since June 2010 (3.6%).

In comparison to the same period last year, March 2020 accounted for 610,500 unemployed Malaysians, while March 2019 recorded 521,300 - a whopping 17% increase.

"Unemployment rate (seasonally adjusted) in March 2020 also increased to 3.9% as compared to 3.3% in the previous month," said the report.

The DOSM attributed the enforcement of the Movement Control Order (MCO) to the devastating increase of Malaysians losing their jobs

It cited employers and self-employed individuals were the worst-hit group, which made up 2.81 million out of the 15.84-million strong labour force in Malaysia.

The group consisted of freelancers and traders, who worked in industries such as farmer markets, night
markets, and caterings.

"These group of workers were exposed to the risk of unemployment and work losses that affect their income during the MCO, partly due [to being] unable to work," said the DOSM.

The MCO was enforced on 18 March as part of the nationwide social distancing measure to curb COVID-19. All businesses that were not deemed essential services were told to shut down during the period.

Image via DOSM/Facebook

Meanwhile, chief statistician Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin said the sales recorded by wholesale and retail trade in March suffered a 5.7% year-on-year decrease

An empty mall in Kuala Lumpur after the MCO came into effect.

Image via Choo Choy May/Malay Mail

Retail trade saw a 6.6% decline or RM2.9 billion loss in sales when compared to 2019 data, while wholesale trade suffered a plunge of 2.7% or RM1.4 billion, reported New Straits Times.

Similarly, Uzir said motor vehicle trade also declined by 15.3% or RM1.9 billion.

You can view the full report here.

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In a survey last month, almost half of self-employed Malaysians had lost their jobs due to the MCO:

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