'Better economy ahead': Eased restrictions seen to improve labor force this 2022

Published February 10, 2022, 4:22 PM

by Alexandria Dennise San Juan

Malacañang is optimistic that the country’s employment situation will improve in the coming months as more Filipinos are expected to return to work with the easing of quarantine restrictions and the reopening of economic activities.

People flock to Ilaya in Binondo, Manila to shop, with the National Capital Region enjoying the benefits of easing of alert levels. (FILE PHOTO BY ALI VICOY / MANILA BULLETIN)

Cabinet Secretary and acting presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles on Thursday, Feb. 10, said the loosening of restrictions due to the downgrading of COVID-19 alert levels in different parts of the country will contribute to the recovery of the country’s labor market.

“With Alert Level 2 happening in many parts of our country, and especially with the opening of the tourism industry right now, this February, we expect better numbers in the coming months of 2022,” Nograles said during the virtual Laging Handa public briefing.

In its latest Labor Force Survey, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said the country’s unemployment rate slightly increased to 6.6 percent in December 2021, from 6.5 percent in November.

According to PSA, this translates to a total of 3.27 million jobless Filipinos in December compared to the 3.16 million in the previous month.

“Nakita natin na tumaas nang kaunti ang ating tinatawag na unemployment rate… Bagamat umakyat ng .1 percent iyong unemployment, tandaan natin na tumaas din po iyong labor force participation (While unemployment rate slightly increased by .1 percent, our labor force participation also picked up),” he said.

According to the PSA, the December 2021 survey saw 910,000 Filipinos participate, yielding a rate of 65.1 percent which was higher compared to November.

“Ibig sabihin, noong November to December, marami rin po ang bumalik sa labor force. So mas marami sa mga kababayan natin na dating wala sa labor force o umalis sa labor force – bumalik po sa labor force (It means that from November to December, there are more people who went back to the labor force. Many of those who are out or who left the labor force returned),” he said.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said the increase in the labor force participation rate has been expected due to increased economic activities brought by the holidays, as well as the enforcement of a more relaxed quarantine status that allows more business establishments to reopen.

Nograles also emphasized that the country’s underemployment rate improved from 16.7 percent in November to 14.7 percent in December.

“With the easing up in February, we expect more of our kababayans going back to the labor force and getting back to work again,” he said.

“Mas marami nang mga kabuhayan, mas marami nang makakapagtrabaho, mas marami nang employed, mas mababa po iyong ating underemployment and better economic numbers generally for the country (We expect more livelihoods, more people employed, less underemployment, and better economic numbers generally for the country),” Nograles added.