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Unemployment Threatens To Put Many Into Poverty Because Of The Pandemic

Everyone has been affected one way or another when COVID-19 hit the world unexpectedly. The virus has taken thousands of lives and is also threatening the livelihoods of many. Before the pandemic, job security was never a topic of discussion, but as the weeks of lock-down prolonged, many were forced to consider pivoting, find job alternatives, and even forced to think about what the future holds.

The stats below paints a grim picture of issue at hand:

  • In January 2020, Malaysia’s unemployment rate was only 3.2%[1] which is the lowest it has ever been.
  • In May 2020, Malaysia hit a 27-year high when unemployment rose to 5.3%.[2
  • It is estimated that 1.5 – 2.4 million (5 – 8%) more Malaysians will fall into poverty as a result of the pandemic.[3] This is in addition to the 400,000 households that are already poor.
UN Report: Poverty in Sarawak higher than national average | The Star
Image: The Star

Who are the new poor? It could be your neighbour, your brother, even a close friend. 

People who are paid decently before the pandemic are now forced to find alternative income streams to make ends meet. They may be highly qualified and experts in their own field, but the pandemic has humbled many.

City dwellers are returning to their hometowns to avoid the high cost of living, long-time business owners have had to shut down and let go of staff. This painful reality is felt across the nation, in Kuala Lumpur as well as in poorer states like Sabah and Sarawak.

Watch this short video as you come face-to-face with people who are fighting to make it through 2020.

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Explore our sources:

  1. Trading Economics. (2020). Malaysia Unemployment Rate. Link.
  2. Arjuna Chandran Shankar, The Edge Markets. (2020). Malaysia unemployment rate escalates to 5.3% in May. Link.
  3. Derrick A Paulo and Ikhwan Rivai, Channel News Asia. (2020). Can the poor in Malaysia cope with the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic? Link.

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