The unemployment situation in the first quarter is likely to improve boosted by healthy export growth and a gradual recovery of the tourism sector, according to the Employers’ Confederation of Thai Trade and Industry.
Tanit Sorat, the confederation’s vice-chairman, said on Monday the latest statistics show that the number of employees who registered for the Social Security Act’s Section 33 rose in the first two months of the year.
He cited a Labour Ministry report which revealed workers who register under the Section 33 of the Social Security Act in January totalled 11.13 million, up by 0.7% from 11.05 million in the same month of last year, with the figures amounting to 11.19 million in February, up by 0.81% from the same period last year.
According to Mr Tanit, Thailand’s unemployment was believed to hit the lowest in October 2021 and slightly improved since December last year.
The government’s planning unit, the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC), reported in February that Thailand’s unemployment rate dropped to 1.64% in the fourth quarter of 2021, representing 632,000 people, from 2.25% or 871,000 people in the previous quarter.
The decline was attributed mainly to a decrease in the number of unemployed persons who worked before in the labour-intensive manufacturing sector which was particularly hard hit by the Covid-19 outbreaks.
The number of new workers entering the workforce, meanwhile, increased by 4.1% from the fourth quarter of 2020, with new graduates with higher education accounting for 49.3% of all unemployed new graduates.
In the fourth quarter of 2021, the country had a total of 38.63 million workers, down 1.2% from 39.08 million in the same quarter of 2020. Of the total, 37.89 million persons were employed, down 1% from 38.28 million in the same quarter of the previous year.
For the whole year of 2021, the unemployment rate increased to 1.93%, representing 748,000 persons, from 1.69% or 651,000 persons in 2020 as a result of the cumulative effect since the beginning of the year.
Nevertheless, Mr Tanit said the labour situation still deserves close monitoring because there would be 530,000 new university graduates released to the labour market within this month.
He said the recovering tourism sector is hopefully expected to help offset the unemployment rate in the first quarter.
Mr Tanit said Thailand’s employment prospects should fare much better if there was without the Ukraine-Russia war which caused soaring oil and food prices as well as dampened domestic consumption.
Mr Tanit said any hike in the minimum daily wage this year may not be appropriate because rising inflation is caused by oil and food prices, not by high economic growth.
The government may need to introduce additional measures to alleviate the impact notably for low-income earners, he said.