MANILA, Philippines — Some 4.5 million Filipinos were jobless last year for an average unemployment rate of 10.3 percent, the highest in 15 years, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said on Monday.
In 2020, the Philippines imposed the longest and most stringent lockdown in Southeast Asia to contain the spread of COVID-19, which, however, plunged the country into its worst postwar recession.
Citing the preliminary results of its annual estimates for the quarterly labor force survey rounds conducted last year, the PSA reported that of the 73.7 million in the labor force population or those age 15 and above, only 43.9 million or 59.5 percent were working or actively looking for a job, down from 61.3 percent in 2019.
“This translates to three in every five of the population 15 years and over who were either employed or unemployed. This annual labor force participation rate is lowest since the adoption of the new definition of unemployed in April 2005, reflecting the effect of the various community quarantine restrictions, business closures, and physical distancing measures that were put in place in the Philippines starting March 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” the PSA said.Underemployment
It added that the number of Filipinos with jobs last year also dropped to 39.4 million from 42.4 million in 2019 while the underemployment rate worsened to 16.2 percent compared to 13.8 percent in 2019.
The PSA defines underemployed as “employed persons who express the desire to have additional hours of work in their present job, or to have [an] additional job, or to have a new job with longer working hours.”In 2020, 6.4 million Filipinos considered themselves underemployed, up from 5.9 million in 2019.
While the prolonged lockdown halted the provision of nonessential services to promote social distancing and prevent the further spread of COVID-19 last year, the services sector still accounted for the biggest share of workers at 56.9 percent, although down from 58.4 percent in 2019.
“Among the workers in the services sector, those engaged in the wholesale and retail trade, and repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles made up the largest proportion (20.5 percent) of employed persons,” the PSA said.
The agriculture sector cornered 24.8 percent of the employed in 2020, a larger share than 22.2 percent in 2019. The industry sector, meanwhile, accounted for 18.3 percent of last year’s jobs, lower than 19.3 percent in 2019.
Among the employed, wage and salary workers remained the biggest class, accounting for 62.9 percent of the total, of which 48.9 percent worked in the private sector compared to 9.5 percent in government and state-run corporations, 4.2 percent in private households, and 0.3 percent in family-owned businesses.
In work hours, the number of full-time workers as a share of total employed people fell to 55.9 percent last year from 69.3 percent in 2019, while part-time employees climbed to 34.5 percent last year from 2019’s 29.9 percent.