• Office of YB Wong Chen

Malaysia’s unemployment rate could be similar to the US, unless quick action is taken

Good morning. I have been looking at unemployment numbers in the US the last 2 days. The US practices a very efficient cut throat capitalism and workers rights (and poor access to public health) are not at the level you find in most developed democracies in Europe. Social safety net also lags far behind Europe. A bit like Malaysia-lah.

So 2 days ago, US saw unemployment rate jump from a norm base of 3.5% to 4.4% in March. Some 700,000 Americans lost jobs in March. Economists are predicting higher unemployment numbers in April. In the last great recession of 2008, US unemployment went up to 10.4%. Many experts believe that the Covid-19 crisis unemployment numbers could exceed that.

Malaysia has a slightly lower unemployment rate base than the US, around 3.3%. Unemployed persons in Malaysia number around 0.5 million. Has the Malaysian unemployment rate gone up in March, similar to that in the US? Have we gone up to 4.4%? Are we planning policies to keep unemployment rate below 10%?

We need the government to be transparent and quick in publishing these crucial employment data. Anecdotally speaking, I have been told by friends that many small businesses have already closed shop or are considering closing shop this month. Companies that employ 3 to 10 workers. While the companies are small in size, these numbers do add up to a lot of jobs. The bigger companies can tahan 2 to 6 months.

MPs and policy makers, must have these data available to them. If indeed, we see a spike in unemployment, then the government must quickly redirect more money into wage support.

The question is whether this government has the political will to (a) engage differing constructive views on policies from Opposition MPs and, (b) be transparent and share these key economic data.

On my part, putting aside political anger, I am willing and ready to engage the government on these crucial policies.