Thailand’s youth unemployment hits new highs due to Covid-19

Joblessness among young men and women in Thailand has reached a level unseen in recent years due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a new brief from the International Labor Organization (ILO).  

The Thailand labor market update found that youth employment fell by 7 per cent in the first quarter of 2021 (from the fourth quarter 2019). The youth unemployment rate increased by 3 percentage points for both men and women, reaching a high of 6 per cent and 8 per cent, respectively.

According to the report, pandemic-related restrictions particularly affected employment in smaller establishments with fewer than 50 workers. Youth employment in these establishments suffered the most, falling by 18 per cent for young men and by 24 per cent for young women.

“The impact of Covid-19 on the Thai economy has seen young people and small establishments especially hard hit. Targeted responses focusing on key sectors and segments of the workforce are vital for recovery, as are continuing efforts to ensure everyone receives a vaccination, including migrant workers,” said Graeme Buckley, ILO’s Country Director for Thailand, Cambodia and Lao PDR.

Between the fourth quarter of 2019 and the first quarter of 2021, total working hours fell by 7 per cent, or a decline in full-time equivalent employment by 2 million. A fairly strong recovery in working hours and employment in the last half of 2020 was reversed in the first quarter of 2021 due to the re-emerging waves of the pandemic.

A looming concern is that the pandemic has further affected Thailand throughout the second and the third quarters of 2021, and is also biting into the fourth quarter. In the third quarter of 2021, the stringency of Covid-19 restrictions implemented were equivalent to those in the second quarter of 2020. A similar magnitude of socioeconomic shock as the one seen in the second quarter of 2020 could therefore be expected.

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