Tuesday, August 24, 2010

June 2010 Employment Report

I reported a few months back that the Department of Statistics has started issuing monthly employment and unemployment reports. I haven’t touched the subject since, because unemployment hasn’t varied much, even in the depths of the recession. But I’m going to cover this from now one, partly from a sense of completeness, and partly because I suspect its going to be important later on.

The first you’ll note looking at the numbers, is how volatile they actually are:



In any given month, it’s possible to see up to nearly half a million people in or out of work – nearly 5% of the total work force – and unemployment rates ping-ponging between 3.2% and 3.6%.. But the change in employment numbers match up almost exactly with the number of people entering and leaving the work force:


…which suggests that this is a statistical artifact arising from how DOS is estimating the numbers more than anything else.

Given these particulars, nobody should read too much in the climb in the unemployment rate to 3.6% in the couple of months to June – it’s still within the range established over the past year.

A couple of other measurement issues are that the employment series very obviously does not track foreign labour in Malaysia (illegal or otherwise), where I suspect most of the job losses in this recession have occurred. And there’s always the possibility of a seasonal component to employment, but since we need at least three years worth of data to estimate, it’ll have to wait another couple of years. for the data to accumulate enough.

Technical Notes:

June 2010 Labour Force Statistics from the Department of Statistics (warning: pdf link)

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