The country’s unemployment rate fell back to pre-pandemic levels in October this year on increased economic activities ahead of the holiday season, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said.
Based on the results of the October 2022 Labor Force Survey released by the PSA on Wednesday, Dec. 7, the country’s jobless rate dropped to 4.5 percent, its lowest record since October 2019.
National Statistician Claire Dennis Mapa said the latest unemployment rate was lower than last year’s 7.4 percent and the five percent posted in September.
Correspondingly, employment rate increased to 95.5 percent, the highest record since the start of the pandemic. This translates to an employment level of 47.1 million in October, 3.3 million higher than in the same period last year.
“The country’s sustained recovery of the labor market backs our confidence that our policies and interventions to reinvigorate our economy are working,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan said.
Likewise, the labor force participation rate accelerated further to 64.2 percent from 62.6 percent in October 2021, translating to an additional two million individuals entering the work force.
“Our move to finally open face-to-face classes at full capacity has paved the way for us to immediately address the learning losses from the pandemic—this is a precursor to a workforce that demonstrates competence and high productivity,” Balisacan said.
“Also, with children back in school, parents-at-home—especially mothers—are also able to pursue more income opportunities,” he added.
The majority of the increase in employment came from the services and industry sectors.
Meanwhile, the agriculture sector posted employment loss, particularly in agriculture and forestry as a result of the tropical cyclones that entered the country in October 2022.
However, this contraction in the sector was slightly moderated by fishing and aquaculture, which recorded 34,000 additional employment during the period.
On the other hand, the underemployment rate fell to 14.2 percent from 16.1 percent in October 2021, or 371,000 fewer underemployed persons.
Nevertheless, the number of invisibly underemployed continues to increase as more seek to earn additional income amid the persistent rise in commodity prices.
“While the employment numbers have improved, we recognize that we need to expand efforts towards creating more and high quality employment by improving workforce employability. We need to do this if we really want to pursue economic transformation,” Balisacan said.
For one, Balisacan affirmed the government’s commitment to boosting the country’s disaster resilience as the La Niña season is expected to persist until March next year.
These include the effective implementation of emergency employment programs to minimize employment losses, leveraging technology that will improve knowledge-sharing, and establishing preventive and responsive measures for disaster risk reduction and management across the country.
Recognizing the private sector as the country’s engine for growth, Balisacan likewise urged for more public-private partnerships to expand skills development and opportunities in the country.