Thailand: Jobless rate down in Q2 as Covid-19 curbs eased

Thailand’s official unemployment rate in the second quarter dropped to its lowest since the Covid-19 pandemic began and should improve further as the economy recovers following an easing of restrictions, the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC) said on Friday.

Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy is gaining steam as its crucial tourism sector picks up. The government is aiming for 10 million foreign tourists this year versus nearly 40 million in 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic.

The country’s jobless rate dropped to 1.37% in the quarter ending in June, with 550,000 people unemployed, from 1.53% in the previous quarter, the NESDC said in a statement.

That was the lowest since the 1.03% recorded in the first quarter of 2020, before the economy felt the full impacts of the Covid pandemic.

Thailand’s definition of unemployment is narrow, however, and only counts as jobless those who do not work a single hour in a surveyed week and analysts say the figures do not catch the country’s significant unofficial economy.

In April-June, employment increased 3.1% from a year earlier, with higher farm and non-farm jobs, after a 3% rise in the previous quarter, the state planning agency said.

“The job situation has improved to close to pre-pandemic levels,” it said. As the economy recovers, demand for labour has increased, resulting in a shortage of high- and low-skilled workers, it added.