Thailand's unemployment rate drops as economy recovers

THAILAND: Thailand's unemployment rate fell to its lowest level since the epidemic began in the first quarter. The decline was attributed to increased employment in both the agricultural and non-agricultural sectors as the Thai economy experiences recovery.

According to the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC), the unemployment rate went to 1.53% in the first quarter of this year, or 610,000 jobless, from 1.64% in the fourth quarter of 2021, or 632,000 jobless, and 2.25%, or 871,000 jobless, in the third quarter of 2021.

It is considered the lowest unemployment rate since 1.03% in the first quarter of 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic rocked the economy.

The overall workforce reached 39.6 million in the first quarter, up 2.3% from 38.7 million in the same quarter of 2021. Meanwhile, 38.7 million people had jobs, a 3% increase from 37.5 million in 2020.

The decline in Thailand's unemployment rate was linked to the 3% increase in the agricultural sector's workforce (11.4 million). The increased production of agricultural products in key crops led to a surge in demand for workers. Meanwhile, the non-farm sector employed 27.3 million people, also a 3% increase.

According to Danucha Pichayanan, the NESDC's secretary-general, the issues that must be addressed in relation to employment include the number of unemployed individuals who had never worked before, which has grown to 260,000 people, a 5.2% increase over the first quarter of last year.

"The issues that should be monitored in the remaining seven months include the fragile global economy which still faces a spate of risks, especially from the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war and supply chain disruption caused by China's zero-Covid policy," said Mr Danucha.

"The number of foreign tourists remains low in comparison to before Covid-19. Although Thai tourists continue to increase, boosted by the government's tourism stimulus programme, the expenditure proportion is still insufficient to compensate for the loss of revenue from foreign tourists. As a result, it is critical to focus on opening up the country and attracting as many foreign tourists as possible," he added.

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