21 May 2024

Impacted by COVID-19 lockdown measures, about 870,000 Thais were jobless during the third quarter of this year, a record high, with college and university graduates accounting for 3.63%. Meanwhile, household debt increased 5% over the same period, compared to the second quarter.

Secretary-General of the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC) Danucha Pichayanan said today (Monday) that the overall labour market was hard hit by lockdown restrictions during the third quarter, resulting in the highest number of unemployed in a single quarter since the pandemic struck early last year.

A total of 37.7 million people were in employment during the third quarter, down 0.6% from the same period last year, but employment in the farm sector increased by 1% to 12.7 million, as the third quarter coincided with the rice cultivation season.

Employment in the non-farm sector fell 1.3%, with employment in the construction and hospitality sector falling 7.3% and 9.3% respectively.

Danucha attributed the declining employment rate in these two sectors to lockdown restrictions on worker dormitory facilities and eateries.

He noted, however, that employment increased in the production, retailing, and transport sectors, logging 2.1%, 0.2%, and 4.6% increases respectively, adding that increased employment was reported in the food and drinks, automobile, electrical appliance and medical instrument segments of the production sector.

The average working hours in the private sector during the third quarter were 43.9 per week, down from 44 hours during the same period last year. The number of part-time unemployed was about 900,000, an increase of 470,000 from the same period last year. 

The unemployed population represented 2.25% of the entire workforce. 3.6% were vocational graduates. Danucha said that there is a tendency for this group of vocational graduates to remain unemployed for a longer period, due to the slow economic discovery and their lack of work experience.

Of all unemployed, the 15-19-year-old age group accounts for 9.7%, followed by 8.35% among 20-24-year-olds. This is a clear indication that entrepreneurs could not afford to bear the financial burden of slowing layoffs of some of their employees.

Regarding household debt, Danucha said it continued to increase, to 14.27 trillion baht, during the second quarter of the year. This is a rise of 5% from the first quarter, which recorded a 4.7% increase over the first quarter of this year. 

Household debt in the second quarter was 89.3% of gross domestic product (GDP), compared to 90.6% in the preceding quarter.

One area worth monitoring is non-performing loans (NPLs), from credit card debt, which accounts for 2.92% of total credit card debt. Credit card credits, against other credits, have increased for two quarters in a row, 3.04% and 3.51% for the first and second quarters respectively.

One-third of NPLs are from credit card holders who are over 35 years of age.