Jobless rate falls to new record-low since pandemic

The country’s unemployment rate fell to 5 percent in September this year, a new record low after the full reopening of the economy since the pandemic.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported on Tuesday, Nov. 8, that the local labor market sustained its positive momentum with unemployment rate falling to five percent from 5.3 percent unemployment rate in August this year and 8.9 percent in September last year.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan said this translates to 2.5 million jobless Filipinos in September or 183,000 lower than the the 2.68 million with no jobs in the previous month. Balisacan also noted that the jobless level was largely at par with major Asian economies and is even lower compared to that of India, Indonesia, and China.

With the resumption of economic activities, an additional 2.2 million Filipinos joined the workforce, raising the country’s labor force participation rate to 65.2 percent in September from 63.3 percent year-on-year.

With the decline in unemployment, employment rate improved to 95 percent, the highest recorded rate since January 2020.

The significant de-escalation of community quarantine restrictions translates to an employment creation of four million year-on-year, bringing the total employment to 47.6 million during the month.

"The recent survey results show the gains of the full reopening of our economy,” Balisacan said.

“The government will leverage on this momentum by strengthening policy interventions and investing in innovation and technology systems geared toward generating higher-quality employment that provides adequate income for Filipino workers and their families,” he added.

Employment growth was observed across all sectors with the services sector accounting for 2.8 million more employed individuals, followed by the industry and agriculture sectors that registered an additional 682,000 and 461,000 additional employment, respectively.

However, the underemployment rate worsened to 15.4 percent from 14.2 percent in September, as more than 882,000 individuals sought to earn additional income with the spike in commodity prices due to inflation.

“Ensuring food security remains as our top priority. In the immediate term, government is providing targeted cash transfer as well as fuel and crop subsidies to help protect the purchasing power of Filipinos and reduce the incidence of invisible underemployment among low-income households,” Balisacan said.

In addition, Balisacan highlighted the need for effective implementation of emergency employment programs and other forms of assistance to immediately assist those who were hard-hit by the calamities.

“As we are expecting La Niña and near to above-normal rainfall conditions in the coming months, we need to boost our disaster resilience and climate adaptation measures,” he said.