Thailand warns of increasing unemployment due to COVID-19 hinh anh 1People receive their first COVID-19 jabs (Photo: VNA)
Bangkok (VNA) - Unemployment in Thailand is likely to soar this year because of the severe impact being felt by the third wave of COVID-19, warned the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC).

Danucha Pichayanan, Secretary-General of the NESDC, said the third wave of the pandemic is likely to be a prolonged affair and prevent the economy from reaching its goal due to a slowdown in activity.

"Workers in micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) might experience the most loss or have to accept reduced hours as these businesses have been hit hard since last year. The GDP of MSMEs has contracted by 9.1 percent,” said Mr Danucha. "If the outbreak is not quickly contained, these businesses may be unable to continue operations, resulting in the permanent termination of employees and delaying recovery."

Danucha said workers in the tourism industry will also be laid off more frequently.

He cited the Tourism Marketing Research Center of TAT as predicting that tourism will likely return to normal in 2026. The effects of COVID-19 will delay the resumption of normal tourism services and this will affect more than seven million tourism workers. If the workers are laid off, they will be unable to return to work in the same field in the near future and may have to change their careers altogether.

He also warned there may not be enough job openings to accommodate recent graduates. With an economy that is growing at a slower rate than expected, entrepreneurs will postpone hiring new employees and this will affect 490,000 new graduates. Meanwhile, last year's graduate and worker programme under the loan decree, which had a 12-month employment period, is coming to an end and this may affect approximately 140,000 workers.

Danucha said workers' quality of life will be also affected as their working hours have been reduced for six consecutive quarters. Those who are unemployed due to COVID-19 are more likely to be unemployed in the long term. Since the outbreak began in 2020, many laid-off formal workers have become informal workers, a group that has not been protected and lacks social security.

The NESDC reported on May 24 that the unemployment rate hit a 12-year high in the first quarter of this year due to the fresh waves of COVID-19 outbreaks.

The unemployment rate was 1.96 percent in the first quarter, representing 758,000 unemployed workers, up from 1.86 percent, 1.90 percent, 1.95 percent and 1.03 percent in the fourth, third, second, and first quarters of 2020, respectively.

Thailand recorded 3,226 cases of COVID-19 with 26 deaths on May 25, raising the tallies to 135,439 and 832, respectively. The number of patients logged in the 3rd wave of COVID-19 is 106,576, with 738 fatalities./.