Wage rise may boost GDP, but 'businesses will need to adapt'

Economy December 28, 2012 00:00

By The Nation

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The increase of the minimum wage to Bt300 per day nationwide on January 1 may raise the earnings of about 70 per cent of workers across the country and overall payroll by 0.6 per cent of 2013 gross domestic product, according to Kasikorn Research Co.

However, the positive effect on GDP of private-sector spending as consumers find more money in their pockets might be lower than expected.

Because of the new wage, inflation may be driven 0.4 percentage point higher in 2013.

However, amid a rather tight labour market and continued investment by some businesses, the wage increase may not cause unemployment to rise precariously.

The research forecasts unemployment in 2013 reaching up to 300,000 persons, representing 0.8 per cent of the workforce. That is within KResearch’s projected range of 260,000-340,000, representing 0.7-0.9 per cent.

The adverse impacts from the national wage increase may be felt across the board, but to a varying degree according to variables such as location, size and type of business. Broadly speaking, however, businesses should remain resilient to the increase if they maintain their competitiveness along with making some adjustments, especially amid an economic situation that seems favourable to growth.

Among the challenges that need to be tackled, there will be a need for shifts from labour-intensive to technology-driven industry, plus streamlining of foreign-labour registration and preparedness for the return of migrant workers to their homelands after the inception of the Asean Economic Community in 2015.

The cooperation of all parties is needed for clear and tangible solutions to see that the workforce is appropriately restructured in a manner conducive to national development, KResearch said.