The highly transmissible Delta variant is posing “serious challenges” to jobs, the Department of Finance (DOF) admitted.
Finance Undersecretary Gil S. Beltran said the mutations in the new coronavirus caused more than 3.8 million people dropped out of the labor force between June and July this year.
“No great thanks to the continuing threat of the COVID-19 virus and the emergence of a much more virulent strain,” said Beltran, who is also the DOF’s chief economic manager.
For this reason, the finance official admitted that the threat of the coronavirus and its more virulent Delta variant posed serious challenges to the economy in general and the labor market in particular.
“This decrease in the labor force could be traced to the economy’s losing more than 3.4 million in employed persons and the 0.69 million decline in the unemployed,” Beltran said.
“As a result, the unemployment rate dropped from 7.7 percent in June to 6.9 percent in July, the lowest since the pandemic struck,” he added.
In July, both the agriculture and services sectors saw declines in employment. Typhoon Fabian and the African Swine Fever partly contributed to the 16 percent month-on-month drop in farm employment, Beltran said.
Employment in the services sector also decreased by more than seven percent largely on account of the wholesale and retail trade sub-sector at minus 18.89 percent. Employment in the transportation sub-sector, on the other hand, increased by 4.33 percent.
However, employment in the industry sector grew by 2.1 percent or 170,000.
Likewise, construction employment improved up 2.4 percent due mainly to the Build, Build, Build program, while manufacturing rose more than one percent owing to less stringent quarantine controls in many areas including Metro Manila.
“The health risks should be managed well and the spread of the virus prevented. Vaccine administration is expected to help deliver individual protection to the population,” Beltran said.
In the Medium- to long-term, Beltran added that the passage of the amendments to the Foreign Investment Act, Public Service Act, and the Retail Trade Liberalization Act will help bring in more capital, generate more employment, and make the economy more competitive.
“We should make good use of foreign capital and know-how. To drive home the point, note that in the recently concluded Tokyo Olympics, our medal-winning athletes benefitted from the expertise of foreign coaches,” he pointed out.