‘Big Data’ Tells Thailand More About Jobs Than Low Unemployment

Suttinee Yuvejwattana at Bloomberg: “Thailand has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the world, which doesn’t always fit the picture of an emerging-market economy that’s struggling to get growth going.

 To get a fuller picture of what’s happening in the labor market — as well as in other under-reported industries in the economy, like the property market — the central bank is increasingly turning to “big data” sources drawn from social media and online stores to supplement official figures.

The Bank of Thailand is building its own employment index based on data from online jobs-search portals and is also creating a property indicator to give it a better sense of supply and demand in the housing market.

“We want to do evidence-based policy so big data is useful,” Jaturong Jantarangs, an assistant governor at the Bank of Thailand, said in an interview in Bangkok. “It’s not only a benefit to monetary policy but financial policy as well.”…

“Official data can’t capture the whole picture of the economy,” said Somprawin Manprasert, Bangkok-based head of research at Bank of Ayudhya Pcl. “We have a big informal sector. Many people are self-employed. This leads to a low unemployment rate.”

“The big data can show all aspects, so it can help us to solve the problems where they are,” he said…

Thailand’s military administration is also trying to harness big data to improve policy decisions, Digital Economy and Society Minister Pichet Durongkaveroj said in an interview last month. Pichet said he’s been tasked to look into digitizing, integrating and analyzing information across more than 200 government departments.

Santitarn Sathirathai, head of emerging Asia economics at Credit Suisse Group AG in Singapore, said big data analytics can be used to better target policy responses as well as allow timely evaluation of past programs. At the same time, he called on authorities to make their data more readily available to the public.

“The government should not just view big data analytics as being solely about it using richer data but also about creating a more open data environment,” he said. That’s to ensure “people can have better access to many government non-sensitive datasets and help conduct analysis that could complement the policy makers,” he said….(More)”.