Workers' debt at 14-year high amid price rises, slow growth: survey

Workers' debt at 14-year high amid price rises, slow growth: survey

A woman buys food at a market in Silom, Bangkok's central business district. (Photo: Bangkok Post)
A woman buys food at a market in Silom, Bangkok's central business district. (Photo: Bangkok Post)

Thai workers' debt levels have hit a 14-year high amid sluggish economic recovery and rising living costs driven by soaring fuel prices, a university survey showed on Thursday.

The average debt of each worker's household stood at 217,000 baht this year, up 6% from last year, restraining much-needed domestic spending, Thanavath Phonvichai, president of the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC), told a briefing.

"Workers' debts are still increasing. If living costs keep rising, consumer spending will disappear and it will be very difficult for the economy to recover," he said.

Southeast Asia's second-largest economy may grow just 3% this year, down from a previous forecast of 3.5%, due to the fuel impact on consumption, Mr Thanavath said.

At the end of 2021, the country’s overall household debt was 14.58 trillion baht (US$423.2 billion), equivalent to 90.1% of gross domestic product (GDP), among the highest in Asia.

It could reach 93 to 95% of GDP this year, the UTCC president said.

The survey also showed a majority of service sector workers were worried about losing jobs.

The vital tourism sector may not return to pre-Covid-19 pandemic levels until 2026, according to Bank of Thailand governor Sethaput Suthiwartnarueput.


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