KUALA LUMPUR: The number of jobs created in 2020 decreased to 73,000 from 104,000 created in 2019, reflecting softer labour demand from businesses in the private sector, said Chief Statistician Malaysia Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin.

He said that preliminary numbers based on the average of quarterly labour force statistics indicated employed persons recorded a marginal increase to 15.1 million persons, while the unemployment figure edged up to 711,000 persons.

“Hence, the unemployment rate spiked to 4.5% against an average rate of three% recorded during the pre-crisis period,” he said in a statement today.

Mohd Uzir said valued added for 2020 contracted 5.6% as labour productivity per employment decreased by 5.4% to RM88,899 per person.

“Following decline in business operation hours, total hours worked in 2020 reduced to 32 billion hours (2019: 35 billion hours), resulting in labour productivity per hour worked increasing 3.4% to RM42 per hour,” he added.

Mohd Uzir was 2020 was a tough and unprecedented year, but it also gave industries the opportunity to re-examine business models and venture into new areas.

Some businesses mproved their adoption of digitalisation while others resorted to flexible working arrangements, he said.

“However, some businesses may find digitalisation more challenging due to the existing operational structure and lack of technical competencies, especially the small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The adoption of technology through smart business partnership is one of the mechanism to escalate SMEs’ economies of scale.

“Therefore, it is pertinent to ensure continuous support for SMEs in the adoption of digitalisation towards the creation of more skilled jobs which will cater for the growing number of skilled labour supply,” he said.

On the outlook for this year, Mohd Uzir reiterated that Malaysia’s labour market in early 2021 will remain in a challenging situation; hence the need for continuous collaborations of all parties to alleviate the unfavourable circumstances. – Bernama