Vietnam's unemployment rises in third quarter after fish death disaster

By Ha Phuong   September 30, 2016 | 08:02 pm PT
Thousands of fisherfolk along the central coast have lost their jobs and income in the Formosa scandal.

Vietnam's unemployment rate increased to 2.34 percent in the July-September period as thousands of jobs in the fishing industry were lost following one of the biggest environmental disasters in the country's history.

The number of unemployed persons reached 1.2 million in the period, official data showed. The jobless rate was 2.29 percent in the second quarter.

Nguyen Thi Xuan Mai, a senior official of the General Statistics Office, blamed the rise on the recent toxic spill in central Vietnam, which has affected four coastal provinces -- Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien-Hue.

She said job losses varied among these provinces. In Ha Tinh, for instance, around 24,500 people became unemployed, more than half of them fishermen.

Ha Tinh Province has been trying to find overseas jobs to curb the unemployment rate. By the end of August, 17,000 locals had been sent to other countries to work, mostly South Korea.

“The environmental incident is responsible for the higher unemployment rate this quarter," Mai said.

The Vietnamese government announced on June 30 that the Vietnamese unit of Taiwanese conglomerate Formosa Plastics Group was responsible for discharging toxic chemicals from its steel plant into the ocean, killing marine life and poisoning fish in the four central provinces.

The steel plant took responsibility for the disaster in June and pledged to pay $500 million to clean up the pollution and compensate those affected.

But Mai, the statistics official, also noted that among the 40,000 new jobless cases in the quarter, there were also fresh graduates unable to land their dream jobs yet. She did not provide a break-down of the number.

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