Unemployment worsens with 3.9-M jobless Filipinos

Published September 30, 2021, 8:50 AM

by Chino S. Leyco

Unemployment worsened after the government reimposed the strictest form of lockdown in August, leading to an increase of around 810,00 in the number of jobless Filipinos in the country, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported.

Based on the latest Labor Force Survey released on Thursday, Sept. 30, the PSA estimated that unemployment rate went up to 8.1 percent in August from 6.9 percent in the previous month and 7.7 percent last June.

The August unemployment rate, the highest in four-months, is equivalent to 3.88 million jobless individuals aged 15 and above. That number is worse than the 3.07 million recorded in July and 3.76 million in June.

“This result is expected,” said the economic managers, composed of Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua, and Budget officer-in-charge Tina Rose Marie L. Canda.

To recall, Metro Manila, which accounts for about a third of the country’s economy, was placed under the strictest enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) between August 6 and 20 to curb the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant.

National Statistician Claire Dennis S. Mapa admitted that the imposition of ECQ is dragging down the recovery of the local labor market, particularly in economic hubs, such as the National Capital Region (NCR).

“If there is ECQ, it will affect the unemployment rate. ECQ has a huge impact particularly in NCR,” Mapa told reporters during a virtual briefing Thursday.

Aside from joblessness, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) also estimated that the two-week ECQ had resulted in around P300 billion in production losses.

Meanwhile, the labor force participation increased to 63.6 percent from 59.8 percent as more people re-joined the labor force.

“While this is one factor for the increase in the unemployment rate, more people were able to find work, leading to an increase in the number of employed by 2.6 million in August compared to July,” the economic team said.

In August, the number of employed Filipinos reached 44.23 million, or 91.9 percent of 48.12 million individuals in the domestic labor market.

On the other hand, underemployment rate decreased to 14.7 percent in August from 20.9 percent in July due to improving job conditions.

After shedding 1.8 million jobs in July, Agriculture also regained 1.9 million jobs and was the largest driver of the net employment gain. This was followed by wholesale and retail trade at one million jobs and manufacturing at 200,000 jobs.

Meanwhile, education recorded the largest employment loss shedding 200,000 jobs.

“We reiterate that the safe reopening of the economy, limiting restrictions to granular lockdowns, and accelerating the vaccination program are key to our recovery,” the economic managers said.

Based on a seven-day moving average, the number of COVID-19 cases has gone down by around 15 percent since the peak last September 11.

“This trend will support the further reopening of the economy and the use of granular lockdowns to allow the majority to return to work and earn a living,” the economic team said.

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