COVID-19: Urban, rural folks see bleak economic future

WHILE many laud the government’s efforts to rejuvenate the economy as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage, some segments of Malaysians are still worried about their livelihoods.

In a report published by Emir Research entitled ‘Pulse from the Ground Qualitative Research Third Quarter 2020’, it showed that many of the urban and rural dwellers interviewed are worried about their economic future.

“Many of them are having economic and financial anxiety. Some even say that their lives have turned from being competitive to struggling for survival,” said Emir Research president and chief executive officer Datuk Rais Hussin.

He said that while people’s livelihood has been affected by the pandemic, their problems were compounded by rising cost of living.

“Higher prices of basic necessities, utility, rentals and skyrocketing house prices also burden the masses,” he said.

Rais added that the younger group, including those who are still in varsities, have no choice but to take up part-time jobs to make ends meet.

“On top of that, wages have stagnated. Those interviewed worry that all this will lead to socials ills as some may resort to crime to survive. That’s why they also talk about the government providing better security for the people,” Rais said.

Youth unemployment: A big headache

The focus group also spoke about youth unemployment, which was already a problem before the pandemic.

Rais said that with COVID-19 in the picture, many fresh graduates have joined the expanding gig economy to make a living.

“Lack of employment opportunities disallows fresh graduates from practicing the skills learnt at varsities,” he said.

“They also say that the current education system does not prepare them adequately to meet current economic challenges,” he added.

However, Emir Research found that the economic climate did little damage to those living in rural areas, especially to paddy farmers, fishermen and the self-employed.

“But Felda settlers seem to be have mixed experience about the current economic volatility.

“While some say they are doing better than before, others interviewed are worried about several issues such as high cost of living, housing for second generation of settlers, commodity prices and unemployment among youths,” Rais said.

He added that some fishermen were also affected during the movement control order (MCO) when time limits were imposed for them to venture to the seas.

“They are also worried about not being able to get valid fishing license, fluctuating prices of seafood and errant middlemen.

“Plus, they are also worry about the lack of access to education during MCO and the social ills suffered by their youths,” Rais said.

The data sampling and interviews were conducted by Emir Research back in July.

Among others interviewed include teachers, front liners, gig workers and the business community. – Oct 16, 2020

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