Jobless Filipinos jump to 4.2 million in Sept.

The prolonged community quarantine restrictions took a heavier toll on workers as the number of jobless Filipinos surpassed the four million mark in September, raising the country’s unemployment rate to its highest level since last January.

The Philippine Statistics Authority reported on Thursday, Nov. 4, that unemployed persons picked up to 4.25 million in September from 3.88 million in the previous month, resulting in an unemployment rate of 8.9 percent.

The latest jobless rate is the highest since the 8.7 percent registered in January 2021. This is also higher than the 8.1 percent recorded in August.

Despite efforts to reopen the economy to spur business activity, Socioeconomic Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua admitted that the country failed to arrest job shedding because of the extended stringent and blanket quarantines imposed last September.

“These results were expected,” Chua said in a statement, blaming the implementation of the modified enhanced community quarantine, which was extended further in Metro Manila up to Sept. 15, as culprit.

During the month, the labor force participation rate, a measurement of the number of Filipinos 15-years-old and above who were either employed or unemployed, dropped to 63.3 percent from 63.6 percent in August.

The higher unemployment rate, combined with the lower labor force participation rate, led to a net employment loss of 642,000, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) estimated.

The biggest driver of the net employment loss in September was agriculture, as typhoon “Jolina” affected some 30,000 hectares of agricultural land in Central Luzon, Calabarzon, MIMAROPA, Bicol, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, and Eastern Visayas.

According to the NEDA, typhoon “Jolina” contributed to the around 900,000 employment loss in agriculture. This decline came after the sector regained 1.9 million employment in August.

Meanwhile, employment increased by 414,000 in the services sector, mostly driven by wholesale and retail trade, tempering the net employment loss in September.

Underemployment also continued to decrease from 14.7 percent in August to 14.2 percent in September, as more people find more productive work.

Chua added that better labor outcomes in October can be expected when the country sees the full impact of the implementation of granular lockdowns in Metro Manila.

This strategy has been effective in bringing down cases from its peak in early September, he said.

“Overall, the economy has generated 1.1 million employment above the pre-pandemic level. This signals the Philippines’ continuing recovery,” Chua said.

“We look forward to the expansion of the alert level and granular lockdown system to the whole country to recover more jobs and livelihoods,” the NEDA chief added.