PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia’s informal employment rate reached 3.5 million individuals in 2021, contributing 23.2% of the country’s total employment, says the Statistics Department.

Chief statistician Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin said the higher employment in the informal sector was partly due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“There was labour mobility within sectors of the economy in order to support their lives, especially for those who were heavily affected by the outbreak in the tourism sector and tourism-related industries,” he said.

“Of the total informal employment, 57% or two million persons were in the informal sector while 42% or 1.5 million individuals were in the formal sector.”

He said more than 70% of the employment in the informal sector was in the own-account workers category, which saw an increase of 2% from 2019.

“Internet salesperson and programmer analyst were among the jobs in the informal sector with the highest increase in 2021,” Mohd Uzir said in a statement.

He said the informal sector’s main criteria included having fewer than 10 employees and not being registered under specific forms of national legislation.

A worker in informal employment refers to those who do not have access to at least one social security scheme or employment benefit.

He said two-thirds of the employment in the informal sector were in the services sector at 67.5%, followed by the manufacturing sector (19.1%) and the construction sector (13.4%).

“Wholesale and retail trade activities, motor vehicles and motorcycles repair accounted for 24% of the services sector, followed by food and beverage services activities at 23.1%,” he said, Bernama reported.

According to statistics, the majority of those employed in the informal sector operate at home (37.1%), followed by markets/street stalls (29.2%), mobile or no fixed location (20.7%), and factories/offices/workshops (13%).

Mohd Uzir said men made up the highest composition of workers in informal employment with 61% or 2.13 million individuals while there were 1.3 million females working in the sector last year.

Most of the employment in the informal sector were those with SPM certificates and equivalent, which encompassed 46.6% or 607,000 persons of the total employment in this sector.