Unemployment rate in PH dips to 4.2%
The country’s unemployment rate has gone down to prepandemic levels, declining to 4.2 percent in a labor survey conducted in November 2022, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.
The unemployment rate in November was better than the 4.5 percent recorded in October 2022 and the 6.5 percent rate registered in November 2021.
At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in April 2020, the jobless rate shot up to 17.6 percent.
Despite the lower jobless rate, the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda), however, reaffirmed its push for the creation not only of more jobs but also “higher-quality” jobs.
“The strong labor market signifies the steady recovery of our economy. With the release of the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2023-2028, we are starting our work toward deepening economic and social transformation,” Neda Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said in a statement.
“Creating an enabling environment to attract investments that can create more and high-quality employment while improving the employability of Filipinos are among the major strategies to advance economic and social transformation,” Balisacan said.
The Neda chief added that measures to attract investments include the upgrade and expansion of infrastructure and the improvement of regulatory and bureaucratic efficiency.
“The strategies of the PDP 2023-2028 intend to reinvigorate job creation, particularly high-quality jobs. Expanding our pool of high-quality workforce will also support our goal of economic and social transformation to accelerate economic recovery and ensure that it will be inclusive and resilient,” Balisacan said.
More dynamic labor market
The unemployment rate, a measure of an economy’s health started improving, albeit gradually, since September 2021 when the unemployed represented 8.9 percent of the population that have jobs and are available to work.
In particular, the unemployment rate has been improving month after month since 5.3 percent in August.
National Statistician Dennis Mapa said in a briefing that the lower jobless rate was mainly due to the yearly rev up of economic activities in the fourth quarter, particularly due to the long holidays.
The number of Filipinos of employment age and actively looking for a job but failed to get hired decreased by about 65,000 to 2.18 million in November from 2.24 million in October.
Mapa said the labor force participation rate—the number of working-age Filipinos with jobs or available for jobs reckoned against the total population aged at least 15 years—was back to prepandemic levels at 67.5 percent in November from 64.2 percent the previous month and a year earlier.
Balisacan said these numbers indicated a more dynamic labor market, which he said was enabled by flexible work arrangements and digitalization of work processes.
In turn, these enabling factors provided easier access to employment opportunities for Filipinos who also attended to other essential tasks such as parenting and pursuing higher education, Balisacan said.
The most number of new hires in November were by companies engaged in wholesale and retail trade (941,000); manufacturing (668,000); accommodation and food service activities (381,000); agriculture and forestry (247,000); and public administration and defense (203,00).
However, the biggest number of jobs lost were observed in companies engaged in construction (408,000); fishing and aquaculture (211,000); transportation and storage (39,000); administrative and support services (8,000); and mining and quarrying (4,000).
But Mapa said that—as was usual with the seasonal occurrences in the job market toward the end of the year—the number of the underemployed rose in November by 488,000 to 7.16 million from 6.67 million in October. The underemployment rate increased to 14.4 percent from 14.2 percent.
The underemployed are those who seek additional work hours, a new job or a new job with additional working hours.
Mapa said many of those who found employment in November have temporary jobs that are seasonal with the holidays.
For research group IBON, however, the latest jobs data showing huge spikes in part-time and informal jobs belied government claims of a strong labor market and steady economic recovery.
“The Marcos administration needs to give more serious attention to the worsening informality of employment instead of hyping economic growth if it is to address the poor jobs situation of millions of Filipinos,” IBON said.