Malaysia’s Self-Employment Explosion: Why So Many Own-Account Workers?
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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY • In recent years, the numbers for self-employed persons are growing dramatically, even as the numbers for people in traditional paid employment have begun to decline. This major change in the country’s workforce and business structure is often overlooked. • The self-employed are now the second biggest group in the Malaysian workforce. In 2018, there were 2.86 million own-account workers, out of a total of 14.8 million working adults. • The self-employed are more likely to be older males, Bumiputera, and located in urban areas. The Klang Valley (greater Kuala Lumpur) region and Sabah have the highest numbers of own-account workers in the country. • The growth of self-employment may be due to an expanding services sector, the rise of the gig economy, the desire to “be your own boss”, and a more positive attitude towards entrepreneurship in the community. • More active government policy is needed to support this growing sector of the labour force.
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