Unemployment eases to 5.3%

The country’s unemployment rate declined significantly to 5.3 percent in August 2022 from 8.1 percent in the same period last year, data from Philippine Statistics Authority showed.

This translates to a decrease in unemployed workers to 2.7 million in August 2022 from 3.9 million in August 2021.

“We are now reaping the gains of the safe and gradual full reopening of the economy. However, we must not rest on our laurels,” National Economic and Development Authority Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said.

“We must harness the benefits of our key economic liberalization laws such as the Public Service Act, Foreign Investments Act and Retail Trade Liberalization Act,” he added.

The reforms would attract high-value and innovation-driven investments which, in turn, could generate more and quality employment, the NEDA chief explained.

The underemployment rate remained at 14.7 percent or 548,000 more employed individuals seeking additional hours of work.

Meanwhile, the labor force participation rate picked up to 66.1 percent in August 2022 from 63.6 percent in August 2021, the highest recorded rate since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, PSA Undersecretary Dennis Mapa said.

This means 2.4 million more Filipinos have joined the labor force relative to the previous year. Further, total employment reached 47.9 million in August 2022 or 3.6 million additional employment year-on-year.

“This is on account of stronger growth in the services sector, specifically in the wholesale and retail trade and accommodation and food services that benefitted from the continued easing of mobility restrictions and resumption of face-to-face classes,” Balisacan said.

On the other hand, the agriculture sector, which accounts for 22.6 percent of total employment, shed around 265,000 work year-on-year due to high fuel and fertilizer prices, African swine fever, bird flu and weather disturbances.
“We need to make sure that we are effectively implementing our disaster risk management measures, including social protection programs for communities affected by the recent calamities. Leveraging technology will improve preventive and responsive measures and mitigate possible labor market downturns in times of disasters,” Balisacan said.

The NEDA chief also cited the strategies for a more efficient labor market that will be outlined in the upcoming Philippine Development Plan 2023-2028, which includes improving the quality of education, providing opportunities for life-long learning, in-demand skills development, options to obtain micro-credentials, enhancing job facilitation programs and strengthening linkages among industries, businesses and training institutions.

“We must further strengthen our policy interventions so we can generate more jobs, green jobs, and high-quality jobs that provide adequate income for Filipino workers and attain significant poverty reduction. These are necessary steps towards achieving economic transformation,” Balisacan added.

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