Thailand’s jobless rate in Q1 falls to 0.73%


BANGKOK, May 28— Thailand’s unemployment rate in the first quarter of this year dropped to 0.73 per cent from 0.83 per cent year-on-year thanks to the post-flood recovery, a government-related think tank reported.

The jobless in the 2012 first quarter rate stood at 0.73 per cent, equivalent to 285,000 unemployed persons countryside, Secretary-General Arkhom Termpittayapaisithm of the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) announced on Monday, adding that the unemployment was considered at the low rate.

Meanwhile, the employment rate rose 1.2 per cent, compared to the corresponding period in the previous year, because plants hit by last year’s mega flood have resumed operations since February.

Employment in the agricultural sector increased 2.5 per cent as last year’s inundation forced farmers to postpone their off-season rice paddy planting to the first quarter, Mr Arkhom said.

The NESDB secretary-general added that employment in the non-agricultural sector, particularly in the industrial sector, was up 0.5 per cent after the labour force began returning to their formerly flooded factories.

Official data on May 1 indicated that the factories in seven industrial estates submerged by last year’s floods have resumed their operations, reporting that 72 per cent of the flooded plants–615 of the 839 industrial operations—have fully resumed operation.

Although the overall employment rate improved, it only slightly impacted the overall economy in terms of economic value, Mr Arkhom reported.

The reductions in hours of work and rises in seasonal unemployment reflected the disguised unemployment characteristics.

He explained that the number of people working less than 35 hours a week increased by 18.8 per cent, or 7,940,000 employees, year-on-year as well as disguised unemployment, including  persons working less than 10 hours a day and seasonally unemployed persons, reached 1.44 per cent, or some 558,000 persons.

Regarding the Bt300 wage hike which took effect on April 1 in seven major provinces, the NESDB reported that entrepreneurs paid Bt300 a day for workers in line with the government’s national daily minimum wage. Some entrepreneurs decided to pay wages higher than the daily minimum wage for skilled and experienced workers.

In the short term, the business sector had no plans to immediately lay off a large number of workers but opted to cut their production cost instead.

However, in the long run some entrepreneurs tend to use more machines in order to reduce the labour cost.