Among the affected, 540,000 lost their jobs during the period while 3.1 million had their working hours reduced or took unpaid leave, with 6.5 million others reporting reduced incomes, the General Statistics Office (GSO) reported Friday.
The country’s labor force shrunk by 1.1 million against the previous quarter to 51 million, the report stated.
Pham Hoai Nam, head of the GSO’s department of population and labor statistics, blamed the dark picture on the resurgence of Covid-19 before the Lunar New Year, the country’s biggest festival.
Vietnam encountered a new wave of Covid-19 on Jan. 28 in what the government said was caused by the U.K.-originated variant. In February, many areas in Vietnam were placed under lockdown as authorities raced against time to contain the spread of the virus.
The service sector was hit hardest by the crisis with 20.4 percent of workers affected, followed by the processing and manufacturing industries, along with agriculture.
The average monthly income in the first quarter was VND6.3 million ($272.95), down 2.3 percent over the previous year.
According to the GSO, the unemployment rate in the first quarter was 2.42 percent, down 0.21 percentage points against the previous quarter and up 0.08 percentage points year-on-year.
Severe Covid-19 impacts have seen as many as 40,300 companies shut up shop in the first quarter, a year-on-year increase of 16 percent.
GSO hoped the government would soon implement a Covid-19 vaccine passport so aviation, tourism and services could recover from the impacts of the pandemic.
The government closed borders and canceled all international flights in March last year, allowing in only certain categories of people including foreign diplomats and specialists and with stringent conditions.
Vietnam’s GDP grew 4.48 percent in the first quarter.
The government has set a GDP growth target of 6.5 percent for 2021.