Young People, Economy, and the COVID-19: The Economic Crisis Expanding to Multi-dimension Difficulties of Youth Life
“More than 8 in 10 children and young people in Thailand said they were anxious that the COVID-19 pandemic would affect their household income.”
“23 percent of young people who either had permanent jobs or worked part-time is reported unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” This is the fact collected from more than 6,000 children and young people aged under 30 years old across Thailand on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic by UNICEF, UNDP and UNFPA.
These concerns and effects resulted from the lockdown and the curfew policy in coping with the novel Coronavirus. The adverse consequences of the policies are the impacts on the economy. A large number of people could not run their business or resume work as previously.
The financial burden has been aggravated by being forced to stay at home where the cost of living has been increased, whereas the income decreased.
The economic responsibility and instability have been recognized by self-financed young people and those who receive financial support from parents.
The economic instability issues young people have experienced are as follows.
- Young People in a Lower-income Family
The data from the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC) informs that the unemployment rate increases to 1.03 percent in the first quarter of this year. Furthermore, there is a 17.7 percent increase in disguised unemployment, which refers to 448,050 workforces being unemployed in the same period. We could not claim that these circumstances are purely the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic since the COVID 19 has just been starting in the first quarter. However, the NESDC estimates that this pandemic possibly causes a total of 8.4 million people to be laid off.
For children and young people, because the semester has been postponed, with more time spending at home, their living expenses including lunch cost, have been borne by the family. The Equitable Education Fund (EEF) addresses that the postponement of the semester does affect not only the continuity of education and learning process but also the opportunity to access nutrient-rich food.
More importantly, the EEF highlights the economic challenges as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic will leave some students behind from the education system, especially students from lower-income families. They might not be able to pay for the educational fee during this economic difficulty. Some young people have to work in order to maintain their family’s economic situation. Eventually, the economic issues during the pandemic of the COVID-19 possibly include the long-term change of their future.
- Young People with A part-time job or Self-financed
For children, youth, and some students, working part-time is their primary income serving for their cost living. Many young people do not receive financial support from their families for such a long time. It is incredibly uncomfortable to request financial support from their family in the situation where everyone is affected.
Similar to a secondary student in Bangkok, who has responded to a survey from UNICEF, she is among the 23 percent of those who had worked and been laid off. She mentioned that she had worked in a restaurant, but becoming unemployed during the pandemic of the COVID-19. Her family also does not have any income. She hesitates to request support from her parents because she would not like to become their burden. She hopes that the government will allocate some financial support, which might not be a large amount but adequate for surviving.
Correspondingly, the International Labour Organization (ILO) Thailand reveals that globally, the laid-off group and the more vulnerable group are the workforce aged at 15 – 24 years old because almost both of them work in the business that has been dramatically affected by the pandemic of the COVID-19. Moreover, they frequently work in the informal sector and without any welfare from being dismissed. In Thailand, there is a financial compensation campaign allocating 5,000 baht for the workforce that has been affected by the COVID-19. This compensation covers some informal labours with a condition of aging above 18 years old.
More importantly, the survey from UNICEF states that some young people request their partial education fee and related fee back due to their less accessibility to institutions’ resources in which they have already paid for the fee earlier. Getting this partial education fee back will mitigate the financial instability issues that lots of them have currently been suffering.
- New Graduate Young People
The NESDC explains that 520,000 million new graduates are seeking to enter the labor market this mid-year.
Even though many businesses have reopened after the situation of the COVID-19 has been relieved. It is becoming clear that the circumstance has changed. The need for new employees is less. Moreover, aiming to keep the company running, some companies have dismissed their employees to reduce the cost. Hence, there is some workforce in between the jobs. The current situation has put new graduates with less working experience in a difficult position.
For many youths in Thai families, if the youth has not been self-responsible for their finance, the graduation usually is the designated time that they start fully responsible for their finance. This might lead to more anxiety for young people.
Moreover, if this group of youth is unable to find jobs within 1-2 years after graduation, they might face more difficulty entering the labor market as employers tend to hire the very newly graduated persons or those who have more skills and experiences.