Labour market rocky amid slow recovery

Labour market rocky amid slow recovery

Only 15.8% of firms took on new staff

Office workers are seen during their daily commute at BTS Phaya Thai station. (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)
Office workers are seen during their daily commute at BTS Phaya Thai station. (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)

Only less than half of businesses surveyed by the Employers' Confederation of Thai Trade and Industry (EconThai) managed to maintain their employment as the local labour situation is expected to slowly improve amid economic challenges in the second half of this year.

EconThai found 47.4% of 300 companies interviewed in its latest survey last month were able to avoid reducing their staff numbers after the economy turned sluggish due to the impact of lockdown measures to contain the spread of Covid-19.

Though the government reopened the country and eased travel regulations to allow more foreign tourists to visit Thailand, the labour situation needs time for full recovery, said EconThai.

"The labour market depends on economic growth. We expect the domestic economy in the second half of this year not to fully recover partly because the number of foreign tourists will not be sufficient to boost the economy," said Tanit Sorat, vice-chairman of EconThai.

Up to 479,893 people lost their jobs when Thailand was first hit by Covid-19 in 2020, causing a wide-ranging impact across businesses, especially tourism and hotels, according to EconThai.

Its survey found 36.8% of companies needed to lay off their workers as they struggled to keep their businesses alive.

Only some 15.8% said they hired new employees.

In the first quarter of this year, only 820,000 people were hired, which brought the total number of employees in the country to 38.7 million.

The new hiring mostly remained low in the first half of this year.

"A small number of people got jobs. The numbers are expected to slowly increase in the second half of this year," said Mr Tanit.

EconThai is worried about global economic prospects as the attempts of central banks to curb soaring inflation by increasing interest rates may lead to economic contraction.

New Omicron variants are also a risk factor, which may affect the recovery of the tourism industry, it said.

EconThai is also aware of the need to increase the daily minimum wage to help workers deal with the higher living cost. The tripartite national wage committee will meet next month to discuss the increase.

"We agree with the minimum wage increase, but it should be based on the inflation rate in the country," said Mr Tanit.

The confederation said many businesses agree with a 5-8% increase. They opposed a proposal by labour groups which called for a new minimum wage of 492 baht.

The groups said earlier the last wage increase was in January 2020, which took the minimum rate to a range of 313 baht to 336 baht.

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