11.4 Million Thai Households at Risk of Falling into Poverty

Thais Refused COVID-19 Aid
Thais angry after being refused COVID-19 aid earlier this year.

The State Planning Agency says that around 11.4 million households are at risk of falling into poverty from the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, with the unemployment rate rising to 1.9% in the third quarter.

Jinanggoon Rojananan, deputy-secretary general of the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC), said there are 637,000 households dependent on public and private financial assistance.

Among these households are the elderly, those where the family skipped a generation and households that were not economically active.

Of the 637,000 households, 467,000 reported lower income. These households work in sectors that are more prone to job losses such as tourism or self-employment.

Some 49,000 households do not own land or have minimal land.

Ms Rojananan said the poverty rate fell from 65.2% in 1988 to 6.24% in 2019, lifting 4.3 million people out of poverty.

At the household level, 1.31 million households or 5.04% of total households lived in poverty in 2019, a decline from 1.85 million households or 7.64% of total households that lived in poverty in 2018.

The National Statistical Office, the Thailand Development Research Institute and the UN Children’s Fund conducted a survey on the effects of the pandemic on the economy between April 23 and May 17, with 27,429 respondents.

Since the beginning of 2020, the fallout from the pandemic has caused 54% of respondents to experience lower-income, and 33% of respondents have increased expenditures, especially from spending related to healthcare.

The survey found 14% of respondents have increased debt in the formal lending system, while 9% have incurred informal debts.

Some respondents were also affected by closures of factories and staff layoffs.

The NESDC reported 740,000 people were unemployed in the third quarter, equivalent to a 1.9% unemployment rate, a slight reduction from the second quarter’s 1.95%.

Youth and new graduates made up the majority of the unemployed.

The total workforce in the third quarter numbered 37.9 million people.

The NESDC also reported that household debt in the third quarter was valued 13.59 trillion baht, accounting for 83.8 % of GDP.