Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Thailand's job market dismal in 2009

CHATRUDEE THEPARAT

The unemployment rate is set to rise next year as Thailand's exports feel the pinch of the world recession set in motion by the US financial crisis. The Thai Chamber of Commerce (TCC) expects the dollar value of Thailand's exports to grow by only a single digit in 2009, a sharp contrast with the Commerce Ministry's recent forecast of growth as high as 15-19% next year.

Shipments this year have been been forecast to grow by 15-20% to between US$174.91 billion and $182.51 billion.

Thai Chamber of Commerce chairman Pramon Suthivong said reduced exports were also expected to result in the country's economic growth next year being only 4-5%.

''Thailand's economy is facing both external and internal challenges,'' he said. ''While the world's economy is expected to enter recession, local export-orientated businesses are expected to freeze their expansion and new foreign investments are unlikely.''

Given such an unfavourable scenario, Mr Pramon said new entrants to the labour market _ notably fresh university graduates _ are expected to be hard hit. Next year several hundred thousand people are expected to enter the employment market.

According to the National Statistics Office, 4.5 million people were unemployed in August, representing about 1.25% of the kingdom's 35 million-strong labour force.

Mr Pramon said the government needed to boost the domestic economy and formulate measures to contain the impact from the US financial crisis and the world economic recession.

The chamber also urged the government to handle protests more gently, as violence could seriously damage the economy.

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