UNEMPLOYMENT on Phuket is up this high season as the global economic crunch bites home on the holiday island.
In November last year, not a single person went to the Phuket Provincial Employment Office seeking work. The resorts and guesthouses needed every spare staffer.
This year in November so far, 315 people have come to the Employment Office.
Phuket's unemployment rate stands at 2.54 percent or 4198 people, low by international standards but a dramatic increase on the usual percentage, nil.
The message to people in neighboring provinces is: do not come looking for work on Phuket unless you have the quality skills that resorts always need, even in times of rising unemployment.
Nataya Anudit, the Chief of Phuket Provincial Employment Office, gave her final interview today to Phuketwan.
Tomorrow she meets the Governor in Phang Nga and goes to work in Phuket's neighboring province.
Farang work permits issued by the office total 7846, although Khun Nataya said some of those permits may be inactive.
By nation, the breakdown is: Britons 1121, Germans 486, French 465, Americans 418, Koreans 412, Filipinos 411, Burmese (with passports) 376, Australians 366, Japanese 351, Italians 347, Indians 335, Swedes 330, Nepalese 220, Chinese 205, Swiss 185, Dutch 163, Canadians 149, Belgians 117, Russians 113, Danes 97, Malaysians 89, Finns 79, Pakistanis 76, New Zealanders 75, Singaporeans 72, Taiwanese 72, Norwegians 54, South Africans 51, Bangladeshies 49, Indonesians 46, Irish 39, Australians 32, Spaniards 27, Mauritians 25, North Koreans 20, Brritish Virgin Islanders 15, Vietnamese 14, Hungarians 12, Israelis 11, Egypt 10 and Turkey 10.
Of the farang work permits, 996 are issued to people working in resorts, another 954 cover restaurants and kitchens, with 905 connected to tour agents and 739 in ancillary services, such as legal offices, marine companies, etc.
In the tailoring and clothing industry, 718 permits have been issued. In an area classified as investment support, issued work permits total 356, with 52 of those French, 47 Japanese, Indonesian 27, Australians 26, Malays 21.
No distinct figure was available for the property industry.
On Phuket, her office records 293,121 Thai people legally registered on the island at the end of September. At the end of July, 320,964 people were registered.
The Employment Office figures also show that of the island's 570,034 rai, farming continues to occupy 156,468 rai. A total of 5396 people (3.35 percent) are employed in farming on Phuket.
The vast proportion, 155,522 (96.65 percent), work in other disciplines, mostly resorts and tourism-related businesses.
A total of 29,107 permits have been issued to Burmese, with 95 more going to Cambodians and Laotians. These are mostly in the construction business, with a few in resorts and restaurants, or working as maids and nannies.
As of this week, five vacancies were still available for spa attendants in resort.
Khun Nataya said that it was often the case that unemployed people were in one category while resorts still needed staff in other categories.
Compared to other provinces, she said, Phuket does not have a serious unemployment problem.
Economists, though, have forecast that a million jobs will be lost among Thailand's workforce of 20 million as the economic slowdown hits the manufacturing industry.
Khun Nataya, just back from Bangkok where she met with senior officials in the department, is much more positive. She believes the one million figure is a vast exaggeration.
The Employment Office is forecasting that 100 companies will have to lay off staff, and that about 30,000 jobs will go.
In the tourism industry, some resorts are taking a cautious approach while other brands believe the time is right to continue to expand.
The office records about 140 Thais applying to work overseas, with 38 returning. Most departing Thais have gone to work in the Middle East and Europe.