Labor market faces ‘serious challenges’—DOF

The reimposition of stricter movement restrictions will put further pressure on the local labor market that gingerly recovered with the easing of quarantine measures since April, the Department of Finance (DOF) said.

In an economic bulletin, Finance Undersecretary Gil S. Beltran said the two-week enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) over Metro Manila and the varying levels of strict quarantine controls across the country are serious challenges to the economy.

“The recovery in employment most likely gingerly continued through July. However, the threat of the much more virulent Delta variant poses serious challenges to the economy in general and the labor market in particular,” said Beltran, DOF chief economist.

According to Beltran, the imposition of stricter quarantine measures in the National Capital Region (NCR) Plus Bubble Area in April had cost the economy more than two-million jobs lost.

However, the easing of restrictions recovered more than 1.4 million jobs in May and another 360,000 in June, leaving some quarter million jobs yet to be recovered from the March employment level, the finance official said.

“The subsequent re-imposition of stricter quarantine measures in August will have consequences on the nascent green shoots,” Beltran said.

But he explained that heightened quarantine measures were "nevertheless precautionary in nature” to prevent the “much greater evil of spikes" in daily COVID0-19 cases.

The Philippine Statistics Authority earlier reported that the labor market showed continued recovery as 359,000 jobs were created in June.

Likewise, labor force participation and employment both rose between May and June.

Month-on-month, the number of employed persons increased by 0.8 in June, whole those not in the labor force declined by 1.31 percent, partly contributing to the 0.91 percent rise in the number of the unemployed.

In June, the employment and unemployment rates stood steady at 92.29 percent and 7.71 percent, respectively. The underemployment rate rose to 14.22 percent, however, this is lower than the pre-pandemic rate of 14.81 percent.

“The arrival of more vaccine supplies and the ramped up administration of shots among the population, including economic frontliners, will help the country on the way to weathering this health crisis,” Beltran said.

The Philippines currently experiences yet another surge in coronavirus infections due to the highly transmissible Delta variant.

The rapidly spreading coronavirus variant has forced the government to put the breaks on plans to further reopening the economy.