While carrying passengers from Tan Son Nhat International Airport to Mekong Delta recently, Huy, a worker at a transport firm, talked about Covid-19, noting that this is an unprecedented crisis in her last 20 years of working.
“Flights have become sparse since early 2020. There are very few passengers. I get only two ride orders from the morning until 10 pm,” he said.
Before the pandemic, Huy earned VND15 million a month carrying passengers to and from Tan Son Nhat Airport. Now he earns half of that.
“I still have to work every day to get a starvation income,” he said, adding that the situation is much better than April last year when a lockdown was imposed throughout the country.
But Covid-19 has not only hit taxi drivers.
Sau, 78, a farmer in Nhon Trach commune in Ben Tre City, lived well on his coconut garden before Covid-19. He worked with a travel firm, specializing in ecotourism, to receive tourists to his garden. The job brought VND15-20 million a month. But after Covid-19, the income dropped dramatically.
In late 2020, a woman named Hoa sold her apartment at VND2.2 billion. A part of the money was used to pay debts, while the remaining was used to run two nursery classes. Because of Covid-19, she shut down the classes and shifted to selling clothes and working as an insurance agent.
Tuyet, the owner of a small travel firm, had to take another job. Small firms like hers cannot survive Covid-19 because there are no more foreign travelers.
Tuyet said she did not have to lay off workers because the workers resigned as they did not “see a light at the end of the tunnel”.
Covid-19 has had adverse effects on all workers in both official and unofficial sectors.
The General Statistics Office’s (GSO) latest report on employment showed that in the first quarter, 9.1 million people aged 15 or higher incurred an adverse impact from Covid-19. Of these, 51 percent were men, while the number of people aged 25 to 54 accounted for two-thirds.
|The General Statistics Office’s (GSO) latest report on employment showed that in the first quarter, 9.1 million people aged 15 or higher incurred an adverse impact from Covid-19. Of these, 51 percent were men, while the number of people aged 25 to 54 accounted for two-thirds.|
The figures were much higher in 2020.
Of the total 9.1 million adversely affected by the pandemic, 540,000 lost their jobs, 2.8 million had to suspend production and business activities, 3.1 million had reduced working hours or worked in rotation, and 6.5 million people reported a decrease in income.
According to GSO, in 2020, the outbreak caused the labor market to decline sharply in Q2 with the number of employed workers dropping from from 50.1 million in Q1 to 48.1 million in Q2.
In the next two quarters, thanks to good Covid control, looser social distancing policy, and the Government’s support, the labor market witnessed considerable improvement. The number of employed workers surged to 50.9 million, nearly the level seen before the pandemic.
However, in Q1 2021, with the resurgence of Covid-19 in pre-Tet days, the recovery momentum of the labor market slowed down. The number of employed workers decreased to 49.9 million, or 1.8 percent lower than the previous quarter and 0.36 percent lower compared with the same period last year.
The third Covid-19 recurrence in pre-Tet and Tet days led to an increase in the number of jobless compared with the previous quarter and the same period last year. As many as 971,400 people of working age were reported lacking jobs in Q1, up by 143,200 compared with the quarter before, and 78,700 compared with the same period last year.
The Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) surveyed the impact of Covid-19 on businesses for its report about the provincial competitiveness index (PCI). It found that of 10,197 businesses surveyed as of December 2020, slightly less than one third (3,373 businesses, including 35 percent of private businesses and 22 percent foreign invested enterprises) laid off at least one worker.
The PCI 2020 survey found that 40,239 workers (27,918 workers in private enterprises and 12,321 in foreign invested enterprises) lost their jobs.
VCCI therefore estimated that of 697,780 private enterprises and 11,758 foreign invested enterprises, 743,016 workers in private enterprises and foreign invested enterprises lost jobs in in 2020.
The figure was consistent with the GSO’s estimates that 14 percent of workers lost jobs in 2020, and 69.2 percent of workers saw their income decreasing.
As Vietnam’s economy has begun recovering, many workers have returned to work. However, unemployment in 2020 has left serious consequences to households, prosperity, and poverty reduction. And it will take a lot of time to recover.
As businesses have to lay off workers, purchasing power is on the decrease.
This is why the World Bank in its April bulletin on the macroeconomic situation recommended that Vietnam should continue supporting individuals and households still facing Covid-19 shocks. This is also a method to stimulate demand from the private sector.