BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand may lose up to two million jobs this year, particularly in the tourist industry, as the novel coronavirus outbreak undermines economic activity, the state planning agency said on Thursday.
About 8.4 million people are at risk of losing their jobs – 2.5 million in the tourist sector, 1.5 million in the industrial sector and 4.4 million in other parts of the service sector, Thosaporn Sirisumphand, head of the National Economic and Social Development Council, told a briefing.
“But government relief measures and ones to rebuild the economy as well as the reopening of businesses in May will help increase jobs,” he said.
The expected jobless rate of 3%-4% this year – compared with about 1% normally – would be around a level seen during the 1997/98 Asian financial crisis, Thosaporn said.
“That is based on an assumption that the outbreak situation can be controlled from May, which will spur economic activity” he said.
In the first quarter, the jobless rate was 1.03%, up from 0.92% in the same period a year earlier.
The agency predicts Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy will shrink 5%-6% this year, due to the outbreak, which has infected 3,054 people in the country.
Reporting by Orathai Sriring, Kitiphong Thaichareon and Satawasin Staporncharnchai; Editing by Robert Birsel