PH unemployment rate drops to 4.3% in December

The country's unemployment rate dropped to 4.3 percent in December 2022 as against 6.6 percent in December 2021, but the full-year unemployment rate remained below its pre-pandemic average, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed.

Based on the PSA report on Wednesday, Feb. 8, the unemployment rate translated to an estimated 2.22 million jobless Filipinos, the second lowest since April 2005. The figure was also lower compared with 3.27 million in December 2021, but higher than the 2.18 million individuals recorded in November 2022.

Although the latest figure was significantly lower compared with the 6.6 percent in December 2021, Mapa noted that the December unemployment rate was also higher than the 4.2 percent registered the previous month, November.

Despite the uptick, National Statistician Dennis S. Mapa noted that December’s jobless rate was the second lowest since April 2005, trailing only the November 2022 figure.

The December data brought the Philippines’ full year unemployment rate to 5.4 percent, still below the pre-pandemic average of 5.1 percent registered in 2019.

Meanwhile, underemployment in December slid to 12.6 percent from 14.7 percent in the same period in 2021, equivalent to 614,000 fewer underemployed persons.

December's underemployment rate was also better than the 14.4 percent seen in the previous month.

In a statement, National Economic and Development Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan said the local labor market continued to record positive gains as more Filipinos pursue and attain jobs amid the now fully-opened economy.

Balisacan said the year-on-year drop in jobless rate translates to 1.1 million fewer unemployed Filipinos.

As the economy further reopened, 1.7 million more Filipinos joined the labor force, raising the labor force participation rate to 66.4 percent from 65.1 percent in the previous year.

Likewise, the corresponding expansion in the services and industry sectors resulted in an additional 2.7 million employed persons year-on-year, bringing total employment to 49 million Filipinos.

Top employment contributors in December include wholesale and retail trade, other service activities, and accommodation and food service activities, which were boosted by the full resumption of commercial activities, pent-up demand, and holiday spending.

However, these were tempered by losses in agriculture due to weather disturbances and the spread of infectious diseases among livestock and poultry.

“We are steadfast in pursuing this year’s growth target amidst global and domestic risks to ensure that jobs are preserved and new employment is generated,” Balisacan said.

“Generating more and high-quality jobs in the agriculture sector and ensuring food security for Filipinos remain part of our top priorities,” he added.