Thai listed companies strengthen workforce even amid COVID-19 outbreak

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No company was spared by the COVID-19 pandemic, large or small, but Thai listed companies have proved their resilience again with a growing workforce.

Following the outbreak in 2020 that led to lockdown measures and prolonged economic downturn, Thailand’s overall unemployment jumped, from 1.02 percent to its peak of 2.25 percent during 2020-2022. The unemployment rate reduced in the third quarter of 2022 after the relaxing of COVID-19 measures, to end the quarter at 1.24 percent. 

Against all odds, the downturn did not affect Thai listed companies’ hiring during the period and the Thai capital market has proved to be the country’s main funding source in driving the country’s economy. As The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) and Market for Alternative Investment (mai) saw total fund mobilization of USD 29.73 billion which included the offering amount of USD 12.52 billion by 111 initial public offerings (IPOs) during 2020-2022, while listed companies actually increased their workforce.

SET’s Research Department recently compiled the employment data from Form 56-1 One Report and found that the combined workforce of 775 listed companies was 1.74 million at the end of 2021, an increase of 141,409 or 8.8 percent from the previous year (125,676 by SET-listed companies and 16,133 by mai-listed companies). Significantly, the number of listed companies’ workforce at the end of 2021 already surpassed that of the pre-COVID crisis level.

The increase was attributable mainly to business restructuring, mergers and product diversification among large-sized corporates listed before 2021 as well as the employee base of companies listed in 2021.

SET- and mai-listed companies’ workforce during 2018-2021
Bourse 2018201920202021
SETNumber of employees1,503,1871,424,5051,557,3121,682,988
Number of companies532540554579
maiNumber of employees57,79650,77448,17864,311
Number of companies131140152176
Total employees1,560,9831,475,2791,605,4901,747,299
Number of listed companies that reported employee data663680706755
Total listed companies700722735773
Source: SET Research Department

At the end of the year, listed companies’ total workforce accounted for 4.6 percent of the employed population. Their gross payroll amounted to USD 23.91 billion and they contributed 24 percent of 2021 individual income taxes based on the tax rate at 15 percent.

In the year, companies in the Services industry group – from commerce and tourism & leisure to health care services sectors – showed the largest workforce (543,867 workers or 31.1 percent of total) and the biggest increase in workforce (70,789 workers or 49.9 percent of total increase) thanks to the end of strict COVID-19 measures. 

The data corresponded well with the SET Note Volume 10/2565 SET CEO Survey (Special Issue). Asked about their human resource policy during the outbreak, the CEOs admitted that they felt the impacts on business operations but most of them tried to maintain the workforce and even welcome new hires in preparation for economic recovery.

Once again, figures affirmed how resilient Thai companies have been and will be.

The article is based on SET Note Vol. 2/2022: “The year 2021, SET- and mai-listed companies hired more job in line with the easing of COVID-10 restrictions.”

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