Q3 unemployment at 16yr high

Q3 unemployment at 16yr high

Virus curbs squeeze economy

Job seekers apply for work at the Bangkok Job Fair at Fortune Towner in Bangkok on March 26, 2021. (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)
Job seekers apply for work at the Bangkok Job Fair at Fortune Towner in Bangkok on March 26, 2021. (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)

Unemployment hit a more than 16-year high in the third quarter, as tougher coronavirus restrictions hit economic activity and jobs, the state planning agency said on Monday.

The unemployment rate jumped to 2.25% in the September quarter, representing 870,000 workers without jobs, from 1.89% in the previous three months, according to the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESC).

The jobless rate was 2.52% in the first quarter of 2005.

The definition of unemployed is quite narrow, including only those who do not work a single hour in a surveyed week. It excludes owners of businesses or farms. Analysts say it does not catch the significant unofficial economy.

Earlier, the central bank said jobless numbers were expected at 3.4 million at the end of 2021. In the third quarter, overall employment dropped 0.6% from a year earlier to 37.7 million workers, with the hotel/restaurant and construction sectors losing the most jobs, it said.

"The strict Covid-19 measures had a significant impact on the labour market," Danucha Pichayanan, head of the NESB told a news conference.

The easing of curbs and the reopening should increase employment in tourism, but the country will need more measures to help businesses with jobs, he said.

Last week, the planning agency predicted 200,000 foreign tourists this year, and 5 million visitors next year. That compared with 40 million foreign arrivals in 2019.

Coid-19 curbs were eased from September and the kingdom reopened to fully vaccinated foreign visitors from Dec 1, with only a one-night quarantine requirement, in a bid to restart the important tourism sector.

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