by Ian Nicolas Cigaral – Philstar.com, 7 Dec 2021
MANILA, Philippines — There were fewer jobless Filipinos recorded in October, thanks to looser pandemic restrictions that have allowed people to find work. However, the quality of available jobs deteriorated in the face of hard economic times and high inflation.
A survey of 43,181 households in the country showed there were 3.50 million people who were either unemployed or out of business in October, translating to a jobless rate of 7.4%, the Philippine Statistics Authority reported Tuesday.
That was lower compared to 4.25 million jobless Filipinos recorded in September, which yielded an unemployment rate of 8.9%. But on a quarter-on-quarter basis, the October jobless rate was worse than 6.9% rate chalked up in July.
That unemployment rate went down amid elevated inflation is a good news for a government that has been worried over rising prices that makes surviving the pandemic much more difficult for millions of Filipinos. More people found work as declining coronavirus cases allowed the government to relax mobility restrictions, with the agriculture and forestry industry adding 1.35 million jobs in October, the largest quarter-on-quarter increase in employment among industries.
Meanwhile, the construction sector shed 291,000 workers quarter-on-quarter in October, the biggest drop among industries. At a press conference, National Statistician Claire Dennis Mapa said the massive employment decline in this segment was likely due to completion of several projects and the seasonal slack in construction activity during the rainy days.
But while more people got work in October, these jobs are less stable and do not pay workers enough to make ends meet. The PSA reported there were 7.04 million Filipinos who were looking for additional work in October to boost their earnings, resulting into an underemployment rate of 16.1%, up from 14.2% registered both in July and September.
To make matters worse, data also showed some Filipinos stopped job-hunting because there’s not enough work for everyone. The labor force participation rate, representing people aged 15 years and above who are actively looking for jobs, stood at 62.6% in October to 47.33 million, lower than 63.3% rate in September.
Nevertheless, the October figure was higher compared to 59.8% labor force participation rate in July. Based on PSA’s report, 16.2% of those who were employed but not at work in October cited “health limitations” as the main reason why they are in that situation while 9.2% blamed it on the lingering pandemic.
Despite the mixed results from the latest jobs data, economic managers said in a joint statement that “we are on the right track to a strong and early recovery.”
“Once more, our strategy has been proven correct. The numbers tell us this,” they said.