Malaysia’s Job Prospects Remains Robust, Kenanga Projects 3.3% Unemployment For 2023

The unemployment rate held steady for the fourth straight month at 3.6% in December (Nov: 3.6%) and remained the lowest since February 2020. Overall 2022 unemployment rate settled at 3.8%, matching the house forecast

Unemployed persons (-0.2% MoM; Nov: -0.2%): It declined for seventeen straight months, reflecting a continued
improvement in the labour market. Consequently, the number of unemployed persons fell to 599.6k (Nov: 600.9k), the lowest since February 2020. Similarly, actively unemployed fell to 484.0k (Nov: 488.0k), the lowest since April 2020.

Employment continued to expand for the seventeen months (0.1% MoM; albeit at a slower rate, bringing total
employment to 16.13m people, a record high. Labour force: growth expanded at a slower pace (0.1% MoM; Nov: 0.2%), with the total labour force expanding to a record high of 16.73m persons (Nov: 16.71m). New job creation: smaller expansion (21.8k; Nov: 27.1k) in seventeen months.

Labour force participation rate was unchanged (69.8%; Nov: 69.8%) and remained the highest recorded since
the data was made available in January 2015. The number of those outside the labour force expanded slightly and for the first time since July 2021 (0.05% MoM; Nov: -0.02%), reaching 7.239m. Unemployment rate remained lower among advanced economies reflecting a steady job market − JP: unchanged (Dec: 2.5%; Nov: 2.5%) and remained the lowest reading since February 2020, with the 2022 average unemployment rate settled at 2.6% (2021: 2.8%).
− US: inched down (Jan: 3.4%; Dec 22: 3.5%), reflecting a resilient labour market despite ongoing financial tightening
and uncertainty of the global economic outlook.

2023 unemployment rate forecast retained at 3.3% (2022: 3.8%)
The labour market has demonstrated a robust recovery in 2022 and in recent months, mainly backed by various
government policy support and sustained recovery in the services sector, particularly the tourism and transportation
sub-sectors. The momentum is expected to continue in 2023, underpinned by robust domestic demand and expansion in economic activities, which is likely to continue supporting hiring activities.

Given the improvement in labour market, we retained the 4Q22 GDP forecast at 6.6% (3Q22: 14.2%), which is slated to be released this Friday. Therefore, 2022 GDP is likely to settle at 8.6% (2021: 3.1%), and we expect GDP growth to moderate sharply to 4.3% in 2023 amid an increasing prospect of a global economic slowdown.

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