Unemployment rate in the country dropped from 7.7 percent in June to 6.9 percent in July, lowest jobless since the pandemic broke out last year, owing to easing movement restrictions, but the local labor force also weakened as people were worried of getting sick,Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported Tuesday, Sept. 7.
In terms of magnitude, there were about 3.1 million unemployed individuals aged 15-years and above in July, that is 1.5 million lower compared with the 4.6 million reported in the same month last year and fewer by around 700,000 from June’s 3.8 million.
However, the PSA reported that the labor force participation rate (LFPR) fell to 59.8 percent, equivalent to 44.7 million Filipinos who were either employed or unemployed.
The July 2021 LFPR is the lowest reported rate this year and also below the 61.9 percent level reported in the same month last year.
“The unemployment rate fell to its lowest since the start of the pandemic due to more relaxed quarantines, but risk aversion and precautionary behavior led to a decrease in the labor force participation rate,” the government’s economic team said in a statement.
In July, Metro Manila registered a significant improvement in unemployment rate, dropping from 14.4 percent in April to 9.0 percent as quarantine restrictions were eased from modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).
Between May 15 and July 31, the National Capital Region (NCR) was under varying general community quarantine (GCQ) restrictions.
In areas outside NCR, the unemployment rate also improved from 7.9 percent to 6.5 percent in the same period.
However, despite the improved unemployment rate, the reduction in LFRP resulted in a net job loss of 3.4 million from June to July, bringing total employment to around 800,000 below pre-pandemic level.
“Majority of those who left the labor force cited concerns around COVID-19 as the reason for not working at this time,” the economic team noted.
The Philippines also saw around 1.8 million of the month-on-month job loss from the vulnerable agriculture sector, as Typhoon “Fabian" hit the country around mid-July, destroyed some P700 million worth of output, and affected regions from Northern Luzon to Western Visayas.
Meanwhile, the country’s overall underemployment rate rose from 14.2 percent in June to 20.9 percent in July.
Underemployment rate in areas outside NCR jumped from 17.5 in April to 21.8 in July. In contrast, the rate in Metro Manila declined from 15.5 percent to 14.8 percent during the period.
The Philippine COVID-19 total case count already breached the two million mark, while death toll hit more than 34,000. Recoveries, on the other hand, were over 1.9 million people.