By Genalyn Kabiling
The country’s employment and economic activities are “gradually improving” after the government further relaxed the quarantine measures across the country, President Duterte said in his latest report to Congress.
The President however admitted that labor productivity and employment rate will still decrease especially since some industries in general community quarantine (GCQ) areas have not resumed full operations.
At present, Duterte said around 64.8 percent of the total 1,000,524 business establishments are located in areas under GCQ like Metro Manila.
“With more than half of the total labor force (57.6 percent) working in areas still under a GCQ, conservative assumptions indicate that labor productivity and employment will suffer a significant decline, especially when industries are not operating at full capacity,” Duterte said.
He said the top industries with the most employees affected include retail trade except motor vehicles and motorcycles, crop and animal production, hunting and related services, and construction of buildings.
Unemployment rate soars
The Philippine Statistics Authority recently said the country’s unemployment rate soared to 17.7 percent, accounting to 7.3 million unemployed in April 2020 amid the impact of the coronavirus lockdown. The employment rate also fell to 82.3 percent in April 2020 from 94.7 percent in January 2020.
The latest unemployment figure is a “major increase” from 5.3 percent in January 2020 and 5.1 percent in April 2019, according to the President.
“Filipino economic resilience will be tested once again as most global economies shrunk amidst slowing demand and movement restrictions from various governments worldwide,” Duterte said.
Industries increase economic activity
In the same report to Congress, the President highlighted that industries have been gradually allowed to increase the level of economic activity as many areas shift to new normal conditions.
He said almost 98 percent of establishments were allowed to operate from June 1 to 15. These industries, he said, were among the 82 industry sectors allowed full or partial operations since most areas have been placed in GCQ and modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).
“As more regions and provinces begin to ease on their lockdown, employment and economic activities are also gradually improving,” he said.
Tourism, education, entertainment and cultural activities, gambling and betting activities and activities of membership organizations are the remaining sectors prohibited to operate under GCQ, he said.
Employees allowed to work
According to the President, areas under GCQ from June 1 to 15 have almost 57.8 percent share of the total employment in the country.
“From this, 58.6 percent of the employees have been allowed to work. As an estimate, 63.1 percent of employees/workers in the country were working on 01 to 15 June 2020, which is 10 percent more than the number of employees allowed to work during the period 01 to 15 May 2020,” he said.
Apart from Metro Manila, the places under GCQ until the end of the month are Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, Santiago City in Cagayan Valley; Aurora, Bataan, Bulacan, Tarlac, Olongapo City in Central Luzon; Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon in CALABARZON; Occidental Mindoro in MIMAROPA; Bohol, Cebu, Negros Oriental, Siquijor, Mandaue City, Lapu-Lapu City in the Visayas; and Davao City and Zamboanga City in Mindanao.
Cebu City is the sole area under the strictest enhanced community quarantine while Talisay City has been placed under modified ECQ until the end of the month.
The rest of the country have been placed under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) amid government efforts to reopen to economy while curbing the disease outbreak.