By Chino S. Leyco
Employment rates surged in January this year as the Philippine labor market continued to thrive on the back of sustained economic growth, the National Economic and Development Authority said.
In the January 2018 Labor Force Survey (LFS), conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority, employment rate rose to 94.7 percent, equivalent to 41.8 million Filipinos employed.
The latest employment rate is the highest in all of the previous January rounds of the LFS since 2009.
Labor force participation rate (LFPR) also increased by 1.5 percentage points, rising to 62.2 percent in January 2018.
Furthermore, female LFPR bounced back to 47.5 percent or a 2.3 percentage points increase from 45.2 percent in January last year, reflecting the sharp decline in the number of economically inactive married women and females who opt out of the labor force due to household duties.
Notably, the unemployment rate dropped further to 5.3 percent, the lowest rate recorded for all January rounds of the LFS in the past decade, which is within the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022 target of 4.7 percent to 5.3 percent this year.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said that these improvements in the labor market indicate that more Filipinos are encouraged to join and re-join the labor force, and that more people are being employed.
“This signals that the economy is responding positively to the economic reforms and programs that the government has been laying down,” Pernia said.
“But despite these encouraging numbers, the government must continue to raise investments and improve productivity, which in turn, will help boost the productive sectors of the economy and encourage the generation of higher quality employment opportunities,” he added.
Pernia also said the government should facilitate the creation of new businesses and boost the outputs of firms by amending market regulations, tackling structural barriers, and passing key reforms.
“These include the reduction of foreign investment restrictions, as well as the passage of the Ease of Doing Business bill and Package Two of the Tax Reform program, which will lower corporate taxes while rationalizing investment incentives,” Pernia said.
The services sector remained the top employment contributor with a share of 55.9 percent, increasing by 3.8 percent despite the downbeat business outlook of firms for the first quarter.
Employment in agriculture grew by 8.4 percentage points to 26 percent employment share, employing an additional 841,000 workers.