Wednesday, January 22, 2014

November 2013 Employment

Based on the latest report from DOS yesterday, the economy lost 24.1k jobs in November (‘000):


However, as I pointed out last month, job losses are fairly typical in October-November, so this is just par for the course. This is confirmed on a seasonally adjusted basis, which shows an increase of 58.9k, i.e. the reduction in the numbers employed was lower than usual.

However, the total labour force didn’t drop as much as last month’s numbers, so the unemployment rate has stayed elevated:


I’m still thinking this is a temporary, seasonal phenomenon, so I’m looking to see the unemployment rate fall back again next month. But if it doesn’t, that might put a damper on all the other positive data that has come out of 4Q2013.

Technical Notes:

November 2013 Employment report from the Department of Statistics (warning: pdf link)


  1. Sdr Economist,

    1. The above may be the case in the short term.

    2. But how do we fit in and explain the alarming graduate unemployment?

    3. If indeed 51,000 Bumiputera graduates were unemployed as of end of 2012, the number could be higher if non-Bumi graduates were included.

    4. To what degree the extension of public sector retirement age affects employment of graduates.

    5. Is this a bad policy?

    6. How do we tackle this potentially explosive situation?

    Thank you.

    1. Datuk,

      The graduate unemployment problem, from my perspective, is pretty complex. To be fair though, this is a global problem, not just specific to Malaysia.

      There are a lot of issues involved, from skill mismatch (a common employer complaint), to language and communication skills (another common complaint). And then there's the discrimination issue, which Muhammad highlighted.

      Looking deeper, there's the streaming and rationing of undergraduate education (undergraduates placed in courses they're not interested in, and as such don't do well in), lack of resources (age cohorts are getting larger relative to available places), the lack of alternatives (vocational education/apprenticeship), the thinning out of quality educators (again the demographic problem).

      Then there's the issue of quality of raw material - garbage in, garbage out. It's the education system as a whole, and not just universities.

      The GTP has made some progress in fixing some issues, and the new Education Blueprint might help, but the whole situation is a mess. Too many things need to be fixed, and we won't see results for a generation. But that also means that we can't separate good from bad policies until its too late.

      With respect to the retirement age, I don't think it will have that big of an impact.

  2. Hishamh,

    Graduates with skillset churned out by Uni do not match the skillset required by the economy. Below is example of UM undergraduate programmes:

    Bachelor of Arts (BA)
    - Administration and Social Justice
    - Anthropology and Sociology
    - East Asian Studies
    - English
    - Environmental Studies
    - Gender Studies
    - Geography
    - History
    - Indian Studies
    - International and Strategic Studies
    - Mathematics
    - Media Studies
    - Population Studies
    - South East Asia Studies
    - Chinese Studies
    - Township and Urban Planning Studies

    About 12 of above to me is not much required by companies / private sector, so all these graduates could be unemployable. Stop these courses?