Stats Department: Migrant workers are largest group in Malaysia’s general labour pool

Kenneth Tee
Non-Malaysians have a significant presence in manufacturing, agriculture, forestry and fishery and wholesale and retail trade; motor vehicles and motorcycles repairs. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, May 31 — The single biggest category in the country’s general labour workforce is made up of foreigners who accounted for 38.1 per cent of the total in 2018, according to, the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM).

As for Malaysians, the DOSM said the Bumiputera, Chinese and Others each recorded high percentages of those working as sales and service workers at 23.8 per cent, 25.5 per cent and 28.6 per cent, respectively.

“Others” is a catchall category for ethnicities aside from the three that were distinctly listed.

For Indians, 24.1 per cent of the community worked as machine and plant operators and installers.

“Non-Malaysian males (98.3 per cent) have a high employment ratio in the age categories between 35 and 39 and between 40 to 44.

“Non-Malaysian females (76.3 per cent) have a high employment ratio in the age category of between 20 and 24,” it said.

It also added that DOSM recorded a surge in non-Malaysian participating in the labour growth rate in 1996 at 86.8 per cent.

The DOSM also said non-Malaysians have a significant presence in manufacturing (24.9 per cent), agriculture, forestry and fishery (22.6 per cent) and wholesale and retail trade; motor vehicles and motorcycles repairs (11.6 per cent) respectively.

In terms of qualification, the newsletter also said 29.4 per cent of working Non-Malaysians have the obtained Primary School Assessment Test (UPSR) or its equivalent.

In a disclaimer, DOSM stated that the data gathered in the newsletter were based on observations and simple data gathering undertaken by DOSM officers during the movement control order (MCO).

Since it was done on an ad-hoc basis, DOSM therefore said the data did not fully meet the country's official statistics release standards and cannot be interpreted as official statistics released by the DOSM.

Related Articles Saravanan says govt to subsidise Covid-19 screening of workers; foreigners in construction and security sector given priority Stats Department: Bulk of Malaysian workforce are locals aged between 30 and 39 Bumiputera chart consistently higher participation, highest growth rate in labour force, Malaysia’s Statistics Department shows