Closer look at PH jobs picture shows little stable employment | Inquirer News

Closer look at PH jobs picture shows little stable employment

By: - Content Researcher Writer / @inquirerdotnet
/ 06:26 PM April 08, 2022

Closer look at PH jobs picture shows little stable employment

FILE PHOTO: Commuters wait for a ride at a bus stop along Commonwealth Avenue in Tandang Sora, Quezon City, on Monday, when general community quarantine took effect. But public utility vehicles were mostly out of sight, as workers venturing to return to their jobs found out. —GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

MANILA, Philippines—To pave the way for real economic recovery, the government should shake off its complacency in resolving the jobs crisis and help Filipinos without work, small businesses and the production industry.

This was stressed by the Ibon Foundation on Thursday (April 7) as the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) released the results of the February 2022 Labor Force Survey, saying that the economy is still finding it hard to generate enough work.


READ: PSA: February 2022 unemployment rate at 6.4%, over 3 million Filipinos jobless

mostly part-time, informal

GRAPHIC: Ed Lustan

The Labor Force Participation Rate (LFPR)—the employed and people who are still actively seeking employment—was 63.8 percent or 48.61 million, higher than January’s 60.5 percent.


There was likewise a rise in employed individuals—from 43.02 million in January to 45.48 million in February. The 93.6 percent employment rate was higher than the 91.2 percent over the same period last year.

The PSA said that on a month-on-month basis, changes in employed individuals from January to February, the highest increases were seen from these:

  • Agriculture and forestry (1.44 million)
  • Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles (1.07 million)
  • Accommodation and food service activities (145,000)
  • Public administration and defense; compulsory social security (116,000)
  • Human health and social work activities (108,000)

However, while the unemployment rate was still 6.4 percent in February, it translated to 3.13 million jobless Filipinos or 200,000 more compared to January’s 2.93 million.

The PSA said there was a decline in underemployment rate—from 14.9 percent in January to 14 percent in February. This translated to 6.38 million people who are already employed but still looking for longer hours of work.

Not a good sign

While it was “not catastrophic,” Ibon Foundation said it’s “not a good sign” that the unemployment rate was 6.4 percent even though COVID-19 restrictions were already eased in February.

It stressed that this indicated that the economy’s ability to create enough work has not even recovered to how it was when the Philippines was not yet hit by the COVID-19.

philippine labor force

GRAPHIC: Ed Lustan

The January 2020 PSA data revealed that out of the 73 million people who were 15 years and older then, 94.7 percent were employed while 5.3 percent were jobless.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Chua said it was in February when Metro Manila eased its restrictions as the spread of Omicron, a variant of SARS-CoV-2, was contained and the vaccination program was intensified.

He said Alert Level 2 has let more Filipinos find jobs again, stressing that the government intended to place the entire Philippines on Alert Level 1 to enable more Filipinos to find work.

beyond face value

GRAPHIC: Ed Lustan

Last April 1, 79 percent of the economy was already placed on Alert Level 1, but the National Economic Development Authority (Neda) said there’s still an urgent need to resume face-to-face classes.

For Chua, the conduct of physical classes will let one-fourth of parents, who stay at home to help their children in online classes, go to work, saying that this will be critical, especially now that the Philippines is experiencing inflation because of Vladimir Putin’s barbaric attempt to conquer Ukraine.

READ: Inflation rises 4% in March

The PSA said inflation rose to a six-month high in March as it accelerated to 4 percent from 3 percent in February. However, it was slightly slower than the 4.1 percent in March 2021.

READ: Higher March inflation seen slowing PH recovery

Not yet eased

Neda said the 63.8 percent LFPR led to a net employment creation of 2.5 million over the same period in 2021. However, Ibon Foundation said this did not mean that the jobs crisis has already eased.

The think tank said the jobs being created were more in part-time, self-employment and informal work than regular and formal work in private establishments.

highest increases in labor force

GRAPHIC: Ed Lustan

This, Ibon Foundation said, indicated that millions of employed Filipinos are only trying to get by with whatever they can do to make a living, stressing that the employment created was mostly “temporary, insecure and informal”.

As the results of the February 2022 Labor Force Survey revealed, employed persons worked on an average of 40.8 hours in a week in February. While this was higher than the 38.9 hours over the same period in 2021, it was lower than January’s 41.8 hours.

Ibon Foundation said 15 million people worked less than 40 hours in a week in February and that nearly eight of 10—or 78 percent—of the employment created since January 2022 were part-time work.

This, as full-time workers grew only by 457,000 and those “with a job, not at work” by 82,000.

quality of jobs

GRAPHIC: Ed Lustan

The think tank stressed that employment in private establishments fell by 608,000 to 21.6 million between January and February this year.

It observed that the rise in employment largely came from these “irregular work”—self-employment (1.8 million) and own family-operated farms or businesses (1 million)

Ibon Foundation likewise said that Filipinos are crowded in irregular and insecure work in agriculture and wholesale and retail trade because, for instance, the manufacturing sector is not creating enough work:

  • Administrative and support service activities (negative 263,000)
  • Manufacturing (negative 235,000)
  • Financial and insurance activities (negative 57,000)
  • Arts, entertainment and recreation (negative 48,000)
  • Water supply; sewerage, waste management and remediation activities (negative 44,000)
sharpest drops

GRAPHIC: Ed Lustan

In February 2022, employment in agriculture grew by 1.5 million to 10.9 million and in wholesale and retail trade by 1.1 million to 10.1 million. Those employed in manufacturing fell by 235,000 to 3.4 million.

Ibon Foundation stressed that a lot in agriculture were part-time work—7.2 million—or 67 percent—of those employed in agriculture were part-time workers in February.

  • Agriculture

Part-time workers: 7.2 million
Full-time workers: 3.5 million
With a job, not at work: 102,000

  • Industry

Part-time workers: 1.5 million
Full-time workers: 6.5 million
With a job, not at work: 89,000

  • Services

Part-time workers: 6.2 million
Full-time workers: 20.2 million
With a job, not at work: 105,000

Ibon Foundation said the government should not take the rise in employment at face value, stressing that the economy and people’s livelihoods are clearly not normalizing: “They remain in crisis and crisis measures are needed as ever.”

“The government needs to immediately distribute substantial cash and employment assistance to vulnerable Filipinos and provide subsidies to small businesses and production sectors,” it said.

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“This will not only help poor households cope with the jobs crisis but will contribute to jumpstarting the economy towards recovery,” the think tank said.

TAGS: Employment, INQFocus, joblessness

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