As many as 1.76 million workers risk losing their jobs if factories that used Section 75 of the Labour Protection Act fail to restart their operations, warns the state planning unit.
Section 75 allows factories to temporarily suspend part or all of their operations due to financial hardship, but they have to pay employees 75% of their regular daily wages during this period.
Thosaporn Sirisamphand, secretary-general of the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC), said 1.76 million workers have received compensation under Section 75.
“If their factories are permanently shut down, we’re afraid those workers will be jobless,” he said.
In a related development, the NESDC reported total unemployment of 750,000 people in the second quarter, making up 1.95% of the total workforce. That figure is double the typical rate and the highest since the second quarter of 2009.
There were 38.17 million workers for the period, down 0.6% from the same quarter last year. Of the total, 37.1 million were employed, down 1.9% from the same period of last year.
Mr Thosaporn said in the second half of 2020, the labour market is expected to continue to suffer from issues that must be monitored as no clear recovery is in sight, while drought persists and flash floods might affect employment in the agricultural sector.
“The results of the economic recovery must be closely monitored to see whether they can help stimulate the economy and create jobs effectively. Although some projects have been approved, most do not start hiring until October. If delayed, these schemes will not help the unemployed,” he said.
The NESDC reported household debt in the first quarter was 13.5 trillion baht, up by 3.9% year-on-year, but down by 5.1% from the previous quarter.
This was attributed to lower confidence in the economy and the pandemic leading household consumption and all types of household credit demand to drop.
Household debt accounted for 80.1% of GDP, the highest since the second quarter of 2016. The overall credit quality deteriorated, as at the end of the first quarter of 2020, the outstanding amount of non-performing loans amounted to 156 billion baht, an increase of 23.6%.