Thailand: Unemployment lowest since start of outbreak

Thailand’s unemployment rate in the second quarter of the year was the lowest since the pandemic broke out in early 2020, a clear sign the economy is recovering from the pandemic’s impact, says a senior official of the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC).

NESDC secretary-general Danucha Pichayanan said on Friday unemployment in the second quarter tallied 550,000, representing 1.37% of the total workforce of 39.8 million, declining from 1.53% in the first quarter.

The unemployment rates in 2020 and 2021 were 1.69% and 1.93%, respectively. Before the pandemic, the unemployment rate was around 1%.

The improving unemployment rate in the second quarter is a sign the economy is rebounding from the pandemic’s impact, said Mr Danucha during a media briefing on the NESDC’s “Thailand’s Social Outlook in the Second Quarter of 2022” report.

The number of employed people in the second quarter stood at 39 million, up 3.1% year-on-year, attributed to the growth of employment in the non-agricultural sector.

The non-agricultural sector in the period employed 27.4 million people, a 4.9% increase over the same period last year, with the manufacturing, wholesale/retail and transport/storage sectors growing by 6.1%, 12.1% and 4.9%, respectively.

Employment in the construction and hotel/restaurant industries fell by 5.4% and 2.6%, respectively.

He said the economic recovery has resulted in higher demand for workers by the private sector, especially for migrant workers. There are currently 2.2 million migrant workers in Thailand, down from 3.1 million before the outbreak.

Mr Danucha said the government has not banned the use of foreign workers and the number of these workers depends on private sector demand.

Household debt increased at a slower rate in the first quarter of 2022. During the first quarter, household debt amounted to 14.7 trillion baht, an increase of 3.6% year-on-year.

The pace is slightly reduced from the fourth quarter last year, when household debt stood at 14.6 trillion baht, an increase of 3.8% year-on-year.

Household debt in the first quarter this year stood at 89.2% of GDP, down from 90% of the fourth quarter last year.

Consumers’ concerns about the Covid-19 situation and the economic downturn slowed households from accumulating more debt, according to the report. The report said ability to pay debts remained stable.

As a result of the implementation of assistance measures by financial institutions and debt restructuring to help slow the accumulation of bad debt, the ratio of non-performing consumer loans to total loans stood at 2.78%.