Jobless Filipinos were lessened in October as government continued to ease its quarantine controls to reopen the local economy reeling from one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in Asia.
The Philippine Statistics Authority’s (PSA) latest Labor Force Survey (LFS) showed that unemployment rate was at 8.7 percent in October, equivalent to 3.8 million individuals aged 15 and up. The latest figure is better than the 10 percent in July and 17.6 percent in April.
Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua said there were now 800,000 less unemployed workers from three-months ago, or when government mobility restrictions were further relaxed.
Chua said the local labor market continued to show signs of recovery as economic activities and mobility with strict adherence to safety and health protocols continued to resume.
“This improvement in the unemployment rate was driven by the reopening of the economy and it could have been lower if the economy were opened further, coupled with the provision of safe and sufficient public transport,” Chua said in a statement.
But compared from October last year, unemployment had worsened as around 1.8 million jobs were lost in the last 12-months.
Likewise, the number of Filipinos who are both employed and unemployed, or labor force participation, dropped from 44.6 million a year ago to 43.6 million.
Chua attributed the lower labor force to a number of factors, including higher family reliance to overseas Filipino remittances and parents decision to accompany their children during online classes.
Meanwhile, the underemployment rate notably improved in October to 14.4 percent from 17.3 percent and 18.9 percent in July and April, respectively.
Metro Manila registered the highest unemployment rate at 12.4 percent, but slightly better than 15.8
percent in July. The jobless residents in the capital region accounted for nearly 15 percent of the nationwide tally.
Double-digit unemployment rates were also seen in Ilocos region at 11.5 percent, and Southern Tagalog region at 11 percent.
By gender, an estimated 15.9 percent of working age men were unemployed while 12 percent of women were jobless. But the number of women wanting to find jobs were lower than men at 45 percent and 72.3 percent, respectively.
By industry group, the services sector remained dominant in terms of number of employees with 57.2 percent share, followed by the agriculture sector with about 24.5 percent share.
Chua said further job losses amid the pandemic were tempered by the services sector, which recorded a 300,000 gain in employment compared with the July survey.
The services sector benefitted from the increased operational capacity and further relaxation of quarantine restrictions, Chua said.
“Decreasing underemployment means that the quality of jobs is improving. This proximity to normalcy means that the informal sector is performing and the impact on poverty may be less severe than initially estimated,” he said.
Overall, the Labor Force Survey results support the need to manage risks more and further open the economy safely to restore jobs and economic activities, Chua said.