PH unemployment rate inches up in December

The number of jobless Filipinos slightly inched up in the final month of last year, largely due to a larger labor force participation, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

Based on the December 2021 Labor Force Survey released on Thursday, Feb. 10, the PSA said that unemployed individuals were estimated at around 3.27 million last December, up from 3.16 million in November. This brought the country’s unemployment rate to rise from 6.5 percent to 6.6 percent during the period.

National Statistician Claire Dennis Mapa explained that the rise in the number of jobless Filipinos was driven by the larger labor force participation estimated at 49.55 million, up from 48.64 million a month ago.

Mapa noted that while jobless rate went up, the number of employed Filipinos increased to 46.27 million from 45.48 million in the prior month.

The employment rate in December, however, was registered at 93.4 percent, slightly down from 93.5 percent in November 2021.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua said the net employment creation in December signals that the economy is on the right track to recovery.

Chua also said that the increase in unemployment rate was more than offset by the larger increase in the labor force participation rate.

“This meant that around 800,000 more people were able to find work as mobility restrictions were relaxed in December. This brings net employment creation to 3.7 million above pre-pandemic levels,” Chua said.

The underemployment rate also declined to 14.7 percent in December compared to 16.7 percent in November, as the quality of jobs further improved.

"By accelerating the vaccination program and safely reopening more sectors of the economy, we were able to generate more and better jobs for the people,” Chua said.

“We look forward to building on these gains in 2022 now that we have contained the spread of Omicron and have reverted back to alert level 2 in the National Capital Region and several provinces," he added.

Chua also highlighted how the government’s progress in implementing the 10-point policy of the Economic Development Cluster (EDC) will help bring back more employment opportunities, especially in hard-hit sectors like tourism and education.

Under Inter-Agency Task Force Resolution No. 159, the COVID-19 risk classification of countries under “green”, “yellow”, and “red” categories was temporarily suspended.

Starting Feb. 10, fully-vaccinated Filipinos and international tourists from visa-free countries are only required to show a 48-hour negative RT-PCR test result prior to departure from their country of origin.

“International arriving passengers that meet these requirements are no longer required to undergo facility-based quarantine. This will help support the tourism industry's recovery and return tourism-related employment,” Chua said.

Moreover, according to Chua, the expansion of the vaccination program to the pediatric population will help pave the way for the resumption of face-to-face classes and restore employment in the education sector.

"While employment outcomes are expected to slightly deteriorate in January 2022 due to the higher alert levels, this will only be temporary as we vigorously pursue the implementation of the EDC’s 10-point policy. This will set the stage for our full recovery in 2022,” Chua said.