PSA reports huge hike in self-employed
The country’s employment rate continued to increase in August, but National Statistician Dennis Mapa of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) conceded that underemployment still dampened the otherwise rosy picture the PSA’s jobs data initially suggest.
“The quality of jobs is not that high,” Mapa told journalists in a briefing on Friday as he announced the results of the regular nationwide survey of 11,182 families as part of PSA’s Labor Force Survey.
Mapa, who is also civil registrar general, also noted the significant increase in the number of self-employed and unpaid family workers, or those who work without pay on enterprises owned by relatives in the same household.
The country’s employment rate in August was at 95.6 percent of more than 48.07-million labor force, better than the full-year estimate of 94.6 percent in 2022.
The number of employed Filipinos, aged 15 years and above, increased to 48.07 million in August 2023 from 47.87 million in August 2022.
That translates to an unemployment rate of 4.4 percent, or around 2.21 million Filipinos who were either jobless or out of business in August, the PSA data showed.
The figure was lower than the 2.27 million jobless people recorded in July, when the unemployment rate was at 4.8 percent.
“[But] the increase in wage and salary workers was slight,” Mapa said. “The huge increase was in self-employed and unpaid family workers.”
Wage and salaried workers grew only from 29.99 million in July to 30.07 million in August, although they account for 62.6 percent of the total employed.
The number of self-employed individuals, however, grew by 1.8 million from 11.25 million in July to 13.14 million in August and accounted for 27.3 percent of the labor force.
Higher demand for jobs
However, while underemployment remained the main issue for the bulk of the labor force, the underemployment rate decreased from 7.1 million in July to 5.63 million in August.
At the same time, unpaid family workers grew to 3.84 million in August from 1.99 million in July.
According to the PSA, the labor force participation rate, representing people aged 15 years and above who are actively looking for work, climbed to 64.7 percent in August from 60.1 percent in July.
For Nicholas Antonio Mapa, senior economist at ING Bank in Manila, the demand for jobs would likely continue to grow because of inflation and high interest rates.
“We expect demand for jobs to remain high given surging inflation and now exorbitant borrowing costs. We believe households are now saddled with rising debt, prompting job demand,” Mapa said.
Broken down, the agriculture sector posted the biggest month-on-month increase in employment in August after adding 1.97 million jobs.
Notably, employment in the construction industry increased by 286,000 despite the rainy season that typically delays projects in the sector.
“Usually during the start of harvest months, agricultural jobs become more available. Also, initiatives at improving the sustainability of the fisheries sector may already have some effect on employment,” said Leonardo Lanzona, a labor economist at the Ateneo De Manila University.