Institute of Labour Market Information and Analysis (ILMIA)
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Soalan Lazim

What is the function of ILMIA?

ILMIA serves as an information centre for labour data and analysis for the Malaysian labour market. At ILMIA, we are responsible for ensuring that data is accurate and up to date as well as facilitating data sharing with users. ILMIA is also the agency responsible for conducting research / studies on the labour market in Malaysia. The results of these studies will be published and used as a guide for policy-making relating to national labour.

What kind of data can be obtained from ILMIA?

Among the data that are available are data on key labour market indicators, supply and demand by economic sectors and NKEAs, average wage according to sectors, and skills by occupation.

Who uses ILMIA Portal?

ILMIA aims to inform users that are government, independent researchers, self-employed and employers, employees, students and public. The ILMIA portal can be used by all categories of user and strives to use language that is simple, non-technical and easily understood by all.

From where does ILMIA source the data that it analyses?

Data sources are obtained principally from several government agencies such as the Department of Statistics, Ministry of Education, Bank Negara Malaysia, the Economic Planning Unit, Ministry of Human Resources and others, including the private sector if made available.

What is the difference between the terms 'Labour Force' and 'Workforce'?

The term 'labour force' refers to all people in Malaysia aged between 15 and 64 years who are at work or unemployed. The 'Workforce' is another category which includes those who do any work for pay, profit or family gain (whether as employer, employee, self-employed or unpaid family worker).

What is the definition of 'Unemployment' and the 'Unemployment Rate'?

  • 'Unemployment' means the population aged between 15 and 64 years in the labour force category who are willing to, and actively looking for, work.
  • 'Unemployment rate' means the number of unemployed compared to the total labour force expressed as a percentage.

What is meant by 'Outside The Labour Force' and how does it differ from unemployment?

'Outside the labour force' refers to those who are not classified as employed or unemployed, such as housewives, students, retirees and those not interested in finding employment. Unemployed, on the other hand, means those who have yet to get a job but are willing to, and actively seeking, work.

Is the unemployment rate in Malaysia better than in other countries?

Overall, the unemployment rate in Malaysia is on average 3.4% (2016). This rate is lower than that in Australia (5.8%) and Brazil (5.6%). Malaysia's unemployment rate is basically stable and some would consider that full employment in the economy has been achieved. Although, in principle, a lower unemployment rate indicates the economy is steady, the unemployment rate will not reduce to zero as there will always be unemployment due to frictions or timing lags, as a result of, for example, employees moving to new jobs or changes in technology.

How can i get hold of books published by ILMIA?

Books and journals published by ILMIA are available online (softcopy) in the publications section. In addition, users can apply in writing or visit ILMIA's office to get printed copies.

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Status in Employment

Status in employment

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Introduction & Background

The status of employment indicator is used to separate two categories of the total employed workforce in the country. The first predominant group is made up of wage and salaried workers (usually also referred to as employees), the second group represents a range of self-employed workers. The self-employed workers are further divided into 5 sub-groups comprising a) employers, b) own-account workers, c) members of producers’ cooperative, d) contributing family members (also known as unpaid family workers) and e) non classifiable workers. The definition of each category and sub-group follows the ILO standards agreed at the 1993 15th International Conference of Labour Statisticians (ICLS), viz:


Waged and salaried workers

these workers usually have the kind of job that is consider as paid employment and usually have oral or written contract of employment with entitlement to basic remuneration.

Self-employment jobs comprise:

People who work on their own account or with the help of one or few partners and for which their remuneration is directly dependent on the profits from goods and services produced. Employers have the capacity to engage continuously one or more persons as employees.

Own-account workers

People who work on their own account or with one or more partners and for which their remuneration is directly dependent on the profit from goods and services produced. However, they do not engage continuously employees to work for them.

Members of producer's cooperatives

Workers who receive remunerations through revenue and profits generated by cooperatives producing goods and services.

Contributing family members

Workers who are engaged in a market oriented establishment operated by a related person living within the same household and for which they may or may not receive a set remuneration.

Workers not classifiable by status are those persons who do not fit into any of the sub groups above or where insufficient information is available.

In Malaysia information is available for only 3 sub-groups of the self-employed which are: employers, own account workers and contributing family members.

The status of employment data in Malaysia is obtained through the Labour Force Survey that is conducted by The Department of Statistic Malaysia. The two categories of workers in KILM 3 are presented as a percentage of the total employed, and also further disaggregated by socio-economic factors, e.g. gender.

Why KILM 3 is important?

This indicator provides information on the proportion of the working population that are salaried employees, which over time also traces the transition path of a country as it moves from low income to middle income and eventually to high income status. A large proportion of salaried workers is consistent with an economy in advanced development and is associated with the prevalence of decent work. The tendency is for the ratio of salaried workers to rise in the initial stage of economic development reflecting the creation of remunerated jobs in the formal economy, which then peaks before the country enter the high income stage, as a larger proportion of the population become highly skilled and are able to work on their own account or start their own businesses as self-employed or employers particularly in the knowledge-based services sector. The experience from developed economies demonstrates that the services sector become the dominating area of economic activities as the degree of entrepreneurship of the working population prospers. An economy with significant proportion of the workers as self employed without employees and as unpaid family workers is associated with a low level rural agricultural environment with few formal job opportunities and prevalent poverty. Unpaid family workers often have no formal work arrangements, lack elements of decent employment, social security and labour rights. Such workers in self-employed status are considered to be in a vulnerable employment position, which is common in low income countries.

The Limitations/Comparability

The quality of the questions posed in the LFS is important for collating KILM 3 information. For example, it is not very clear if salaried workers have formal or regular contracts or are casual workers. Moreover, it is unclear if salaried workers have protection from unfair dismissals to be deemed decent work. The category of self-employed as workers in cooperatives is not recorded in Malaysia. When benchmarking against other countries due care has to be taken because of the different definitions and survey methods used by some countries.

Moving forward

Efforts would need to be devoted to better understand the situation of unpaid family workers to ensure decent job status and to move them to salaried worker positions. In recent years, this category of workers has seen increases in the urban areas. Finally, analysis of KILM 3 by state could provide insights into the evolving job markets nationwide.