The number of unemployed graduates increased by 22.5% to 202,400 in 2020 compared with 165,200 in 2019, according to data released by the statistics department today.
Chief Statistician Mohd Uzir Mahidin, citing the Graduates Statistics 2020, said this was due to an unfavourable economic environment last year and its consequences on the overall labour market situation.
He said the graduate unemployment rate for 2020 went up by 0.5 percentage points to 4.4% opposed to 3.9% in the preceding year.
“More than 75% of unemployed graduates were actively seeking work whereby almost half were unemployed for less than three months,” he said in a statement today following the release of the statistics.
Graduates in the report are defined as individuals with the highest certificate obtained from universities, colleges, polytechnics, recognised bodies or equivalent, with a study duration of at least two years.
Uzir said among the 4.35 million employed graduates in 2020, more than two-thirds or 68.8% were in the skilled occupation category although the number declined by 0.8% compared to 2019, with the decrease in the professional as well as technical and associate professional occupation categories.
The semi-skilled category gained 19.3% of employed graduates in 2020, particularly in the occupation categories of service and sales workers, plant and machine operators and assemblers, he said.
The composition of employed graduates in the semi-skilled category was 28.9% in 2020 and 2.3% in the low-skilled occupation category.
“Those in the semi-skilled and low-skilled categories were classified as skill-related underemployment since they were taking up jobs that did not match their level of qualifications,” Uzir said.
From the perspective of the economic sector, he said more than 75% or 3.37 million graduates were employed in the services sector followed by 14.6% in the manufacturing sector.
There were 800,900 graduates outside the labour force in 2020, of which 39.4% were due to housework or family responsibilities, he said.
According to the 2020 Salary and Wage Survey by the department, he said it was observed that the graduates’ mean monthly salaries and wages in their full-time equivalent principal occupations decreased 10.6% to RM4,489 against RM5,020 in 2019.
The degree holders earned mean salaries and wages of RM5,471 per month in 2020, lower by 9.1% compared to 2019, diploma holders received a mean of RM3,311, decreased by 11.5% from 2019, he said.
It was observed that skilled category recorded the highest decline of 8.0% to RM5,316 while those in the semi-skilled category received RM2,418, lower by 2.7% as opposed to the previous year.