Jobless rate falls despite ECQ in March

Published May 6, 2021, 9:44 AM

by Chino S. Leyco

The number of jobless Filipinos declined by about 747,000 last March despite the reimposition of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in the so-called national capital region (NCR) plus, the country’s main economic hub.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported on Thursday, May 6, that unemployment rate decelerated to 7.1 percent in March this year from 8.8 percent in the previous month.

The latest jobless rate, equivalent to 3.44 million individuals, is the lowest level since the height of the strictest community quarantine in April last year.


Likewise, labor force participation rate (LFPR) bounced back to 65 percent in March, or a total of 48.77 million Filipinos 15 years old and over who were either employed or unemployed. It was the highest since April 2014.

Moreover, employment rate rose to 92.9 percent in March from 91.2 percent in February, translating to a month-on-month increase of about 2.18 million Filipinos who had job or business.

In addition, underemployment rate declined to 16.2 percent from 18.2 percent in February. In terms of magnitude, about 7.34 million of the employed persons expressed the desire to have additional hours of work in their present job or to have additional job.

By industry group, the services sector remained as the target employment hub accounting for 56 percent of the total employed persons, followed by the agriculture sector with 24.6 percent, and the industry sector with 19.4 percent. 

In March, following the country’s worst coronavirus surge, Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal were put in a bubble known as NCR Plus that effectively placed the five major areas under ECQ, the strictest form of lockdown.

The NCR Plus eventually shifted to the less restrictive modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) in April.

But unlike last year’s ECQ and MECQ where around three-fourths of the economy was shut down, most sectors, including public transport, this time around are allowed to operate.

In a statement released by the government’s economic team, it said labor market continued to see gains in March 2021 following the further reopening of the economy, while adhering to the minimum health standards.

“Given the imposition of ECQ and MECQ in the NCR-plus bubble from March 29 to May 15, 2021, we expect to see a temporary reversal of these employment gains in the next LFS round,” the economic managers said. “However, the impact is expected to be less severe compared to April 2020 given our more risk-managed approach to the present quarantines,” it added.