The Vietnamese labor market has been heavily affected since the third outbreak of COVID-19, with nearly 1.1 million working-age people out of work in the first quarter of 2021, an increase of 12,100 people year-on-year, a press conference was told last week.
Pham Hoai Nam, director of the Department of Population and Labor Statistics under the General Statistics Office (GSO), released the figures at the conference held by the GSO in Hanoi regarding the employment situation on Friday. However, compared to the previous quarter, the number of jobless working-age people reduced by 137,000, Nam added.
The working-age unemployment rate was 2.42 percent in the first three months of this year, up 0.08 percentage points from the same period last year, the GSO reported. The nationwide workforce aged 15 and over decreased by 1.1 million people from the previous quarter and 180,900 people year-on-year, according to the agency. As reported at the press briefing, 9.1 million workers aged 15 and over have been suffering from the impacts of COVID-19. Between January and March, 540,000 people lost their jobs, 2.8 million people suspended their business activities, 3.1 million were underemployed or laid off, and 6.5 million people saw their income reduced because of the pandemic. By economic sector, those suffering the least from COVID-19 were agriculture, forestry and fisheries, with only 7.5 percent of their workers affected.
Meanwhile, the ratios of affected workers in the industry-construction and service sectors were 16.5 percent and 20.4 percent, respectively. The third quarter also saw 971,400 people become underemployed, an increase of 143,200 people from the previous quarter and 78,700 people versus the same period last year. The overall underemployment rate of working-age workers in the period was 2.2 percent. By sector, the rates of 3.88 percent, 1.51 percent, and 1.76 percent were recorded in agroforestry and fishery, industry-construction, and service, respectively. The third outbreak of COVID-19 has undermined the recovery of the labor market achieved in the second half of 2020, causing many people, especially women, to work as non-official workers, the press conference was told. A total of 910 community cases have been recorded since the third wave started hitting Vietnam in late January. The average monthly income of laborers in the first quarter was reported at VND6.3 million (US$273), marking the increases of VND339,000 ($14.6) and VND106,000 ($4.6) from the previous quarter and the same period of last year, respectively.
The above data reflects the hefty difficulties facing the job market in particular and the economy in general, challenging the efforts to achieve the government’s dual goal of containing the pandemic and boosting economic recovery, Nam told the conference.
The GSO has proposed the government and agencies concerned consider the issuance of 'vaccine passports' and develop necessary criteria for opening international tourism to help revive the employment market.
It is essential to introduce specific policies to attract 3.5 million self-employed agricultural workers to participate in the labor market in order to improve productivity and livelihoods, the GSO suggested.