The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is “encouraged” by the latest Labor Force Survey results, which, among other things, showed the lowest unemployment rate in the country since the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic began last year.
“The signs are indeed encouraging. Our economy is gradually getting back on track as more people are actively participating in the labor force and are becoming employed,” DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III said in reaction to the March 2021 survey outcome.
Bello said the recorded unemployment rate of 7.1 percent, which equates to 3.44 million unemployed Filipinos, “is already the lowest recorded since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country”.
Based on figures from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the unemployment rate in the country hit a staggering 17.6 percent in April 2020, when strict lockdowns and stay-at-home orders were first enforced in an attempt to halt the local spread of COVID-19. The number represented 7.2 million jobless Filipinos.
The unemployment rates in January 2021 and February 2021 were 8.7 percent (4 million) and 8.8 percent (4.2 million), respectively.
“We also noted slight decline in the number of underemployed persons by 510,000 at 7.34 million (16.2 percent) from the 7.85 million (18.2 percent) in February,” Bello said of the March survey results.
Another improvement highlighted by Bello is the addition of 2.18 million workers to the total number of employed persons in the country, which now stands at 45.33 million. The figure was 43.15 million in February 2021.
“This vibrant labor market landscape comes close with the initial rollout of vaccines for the A4 category of priority groups – the workers. The vaccination program for workers which we spearheaded on May 1 during the Labor Day celebration should bring back their confidence to become economically active, along with the businesses and consumers,” he noted.
Some 5,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and minimum wage earners were inoculated from COVID-19 duirng the May 1 rites.
“We strongly encourage our workers to get themselves inoculated once the COVID-19 vaccines are available,” added the DOLE chief.
He said the agency is one with the Palace’s economic team in pushing for the safe reopening of businesses. “With this policy, mobility of workers is further facilitated under a less restrictive community quarantine levels.” “We also reiterate our call on all workers and businesses to continue the strict adherence to the minimum public health standards (MPHS), and occupational safety and health policies. We need to instill discipline in observing basic MPHS – proper wearing of face mask and face shield, washing of hands, and social distancing,” Bello further said.