Thailand’s Q1 unemployment rate improves, but number of jobless graduates still high

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Thailand’s unemployment rate fell in the first quarter of 2022, but the number of unemployed new graduates remained high, according to the latest report by  the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC).

The number of unemployed people in the first quarter stood at 610,000, representing the unemployment rate of 1.53 per cent. The figures are up from 1.64 percent in the previous quarter and 1.96 percent from a year ago.

Although the NESDC said the first-quarter unemployment rate is the lowest since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, the rising number of jobless graduates is still one of the concerns for the job market ahead. 

According to the report, the number of jobless people who have not been employed before rose by 5.2 per cent from a year ago to 260,000, with long-term unemployed people on the rise. 

The unemployment rate among new college graduates stood at 3.1 per cent, higher than 1.80 per cent a year earlier. This was because of the “mismatch in labour skills” required by the employers, said the report.

As Thailand is gradually reopening to international tourists, the NESDC pointed out that the job recovery in the tourism sector must be monitored. “Spending by Thai visitors could not compensate for the losses caused by the absence of foreigners,” the council said.

“It is critical to work on opening up the country and luring as many foreign tourists as possible,” the NESDC noted. In the first quarter, Thailand saw around 500,000 foriegn visitors.

The NESDC also warned of the impact of growing inflation on labor markets in specific industries, such as agriculture, while Thai household debt to GDP was 90.1% as of the end of 2021.

“The fragility of households’ financial positions, as well as the escalating cost of living, may have an impact on their capacity to pay off debt.”

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