Q4 2012 shows lower unemployment rate, higher household debt

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BANGKOK, Feb 26 – Thailand’s social conditions in last year’s 4th quarter saw reduced unemployment but a higher amount of household debt, particularly for vehicles, according to a state planning agency.

National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) Deputy Secretary-General Suwannee Kamman said in the 4th quarter, Thailand’s unemployment rate stood low at 0.48 per cent or 190,000 persons, from 0.63 per cent year-on-year, while employment increased 1.7 per cent with 39.6 million persons employed nationwide, and mostly in the agricultural sector.

The unemployment rate stood on average at 0.66 per cent throughout 2012. The unemployment rate of those graduating in liberal arts, journalism, and information technology still ranked first at 2.2-3.8 per cent.

Ms Suwannee said the Bt300 minimum wage has not yet led to overall layoffs, but the situation must be closely monitored, for 16,900 juristic persons last year closed their businesses.

Meanwhile, she said that household debt has increased, particularly on vehicles. Despite that, default on payments has not been seen, though it must be monitored again this year.

Household savings tended to decrease, she said, while the number of households nationwide failing to save rose to 45 per cent.

The problem of teenage pregnancy also increased steeply, Ms Suwannee said. Analysis and measures are needed to tackle the problem at the local level. Instability in the labour workplace was also a factor in increasing sexual violence towards children and women, she added.

On the drug issue, she said the problem has not been successfully addressed, for only 9.7 per cent of drug addicts successfully underwent rehab and stopped their drug use behaviour.