Jobless rate up again in January
Boost from holiday season hirings has waned

Jobless rate up again in January

A job fair held at SM City Manila jobless rate january

‘APPLY HERE’ A job fair held at SM City Manila attracts a sizeable crowd in this photo taken on Jan. 18, 2023. The Philippine Statistics Authority on Friday said the number of jobless Filipinos rose again in January this year, as the boost attributed to the seasonal Christmas hirings waned. —NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

The number of jobless Filipinos increased again in January as the boost in employment that comes with the Christmas rush began to wane.

A nationwide survey of 169,700 households showed there were 2.15 million Filipinos who were either jobless or out of business in January, higher than the 1.6 million in December, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported Friday.


That translated to an unemployment rate of 4.5 percent, rising from the record-low rate of 3.1 percent in December 2023, but below the 4.8 percent in January 2023.


READ: PH jobless rate eased to record low of 3.1% in Dec. 2023

National Statistician Claire Dennis Mapa said at a press briefing on Friday that the wealth of seasonal jobs created by the holiday season has started to deplete.

Force reduction

Data showed the wholesale and retail trade sector—where most of the seasonal work during the holidays came from—posted the largest year-on-year drop in employment in January after shedding 1.51 million jobs.”

While some of the seasonal jobs had been retained, some also went away,” Mapa said.

The increase in unemployment coincided with the reduction in the country’s labor force, which represents people aged 15 and above who are actively looking for jobs.

In January, 48.09 million people were part of the labor force, down from 52.13 million in December 2023, translating to a labor force participation rate of 61.1 percent in January, lower than the 66.6 percent in December and 64.5 percent in January 2023.


Reasons for leaving

On a year-on-year basis, data showed the contraction in labor force participation was more pronounced among women (-1.3 million), the youth cohort (-1.0 million), and junior high school graduates (-652,000). The top reasons cited by respondents for leaving the workforce were household duties, age-related restrictions, such as being too young or too old for a job and having a permanent disability, as well as schooling.

At the same time, the PSA reported that 6.39 million Filipinos sought additional working hours in January to augment their income, up from 6.01 million in December.

That translated to an underemployment rate of 13.9 percent, up from 11.9 percent in the preceding month and an indication of deteriorating job quality.

“The substantial jump in the January unemployment and underemployment rates suggest that the December drop was not sustainable and was likely due to seasonal factors,” said Nicholas Mapa, senior economist at ING Bank in Manila.

“Also, new ventures for fresh employment opportunities remain limited which likely contributed to the quick bounce back up in unemployment and underemployment,” Mapa added.

In a statement, Secretary Arsenio Balisacan of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) said the Marcos administration was working on strengthening linkages among industry, the academe and the public sector to address skill mismatches in the labor market.

Balisacan also said that the government “will remain responsive to the needs of vulnerable groups, including women, youth, older individuals and those with disabilities.”

Still lower by 230K

Albay Rep. Joey Salceda said the government should do more to drive down prices of basic commodities, especially rice, to resolve the twin problems of rising inflation and unemployment rates in the country.

READ: Unemployment eases to 3.6% in November

He noted, however, that while there was an increase in the ranks of the unemployed in January, the number was lower by 230,000 compared to previous years “suggesting that the country’s job consolidation is under way … In other words, existing jobs are getting a little more durable and some new jobs are in the process of being created.”

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Even so, the Marcos administration must now focus on driving down prices of basic commodities in the immediate term so as not to “shock” the fragile state of the country’s post-pandemic recovery, he said.

TAGS: Employment, jobless, unemployment rate

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