The coronavirus pandemic has continued to take a toll on the country’s employment and income.
Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua has estimated P83.3 billion in income losses due to the strict lockdown in National Capital Region Plus from late March to end of April since many people are unable to work.
The decline in income was reported after Metro Manila and four nearby provinces were placed under the most restrictive enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) from March 29 to April 11 to curb the rapid spike in coronavirus cases. The lockdown kept most people indoors, scaled down business operations and public transportation, and restricted mass gatherings and domestic travel.
The two-week strict lockdown was eventually eased when these areas, collectively known as NCR Plus, have been put under the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) from April 11 to 30.
“Dahil po sa spike ng COVID cases, mayroon na po tayong nakikitang pagkawalan ng income. For every one week — for every one week na nasa ECQ po tayo, P19.6 billion po ang nawawala dahil hindi po lahat ay nakakapagtrabaho at sumusuweldo. For every one week of MECQ po, P14.7 billion po ang nawawala (Due to the spike in COVID cases, we have seen loss of income. For every one week of ECQ, we lose P19.6 billion because not everything can work and earn an income. For every one week of MECQ, an income of P14.7 billion is lost),” Chua said during a meeting with President Duterte and other Cabinet members Monday, April 19.
“Dahil two weeks na po ‘yong ating ECQ at may madadagdag pa na almost three weeks na MECQ, so total of almost five weeks, ang epekto po sa ating tao ay 83.3 billion in foregone wages (Because we had two weeks of ECQ and almost three weeks of MECQ, a total of almost five weeks, the effect on our people is P83.3 billion in foregone wages),” he added.
The country’s unemployment rate also worsened with 4.5 million Filipinos reported jobless in February this year. The number of unemployed Filipino was higher than 3.9 million recorded in January.
“Iyon naman pong unemployment rate ay medyo mataas pa at 8.8 percent (The unemployment rate is slightly high at 8.8 percent),” Chua admitted.
“Ang hinahabol natin sana by next year ay bumalik na sa 4 to 5 percent unemployment rate (We aim to bring back the unemployment rate to 4 to 5 percent by next year),” he added.
When the first lockdown was first imposed to curb the outbreak last year, Chua said 8.7 million jobs were lost between January and April 2020.
But since the government gradually reopened the economy afterwards, he said around 9.3 million jobs have been created by February 2021. He said the country was able to recover the lost jobs and even created an additional 600,000 jobs then.
Chua then made a pitch for public cooperation to help stem the coronavirus case surge so the government can gradually reopen the economy again. A safe reopening of the economy could help restore jobs and income of workers, he added.
“Naniniwala kami na dapat magtulungan po tayo na para masolusyonan na itong spike para dahan-dahan na natin puwedeng buksan ulit ang ating ekonomiya para maibalik po natin sa taumbayan ‘yong mababang preyso, ‘yong pagbalik ng trabaho at pagbalik ng kanilang kita (We believe we must help each other to solve the spike so we can slowly reopen our economy and return to the people affordable prices, return of jobs and income),” he said.
President Duterte recently expressed concern about the economic fallout from the pandemic. He said billions in lost income were reported since people were displaced from work or experienced reduced work hours during the lockdown.
But in his remarks Monday, Duterte cited that the country’s economic situation and job generation were “improving.” He also defended his decision to temporary cut tariffs on pork imports to boost local supply and stabilize prices in the country.