Joblessness, underemployment worsen in January as temporary holiday jobs fade
Ramon Royandoyan – Philstar.com
March 9, 2023 | 9:26am
MANILA, Philippines (Updated 10:53 a.m.) — The proportion of jobless Filipinos went up in January while job quality deteriorated as the sheen of temporary jobs offered by the holiday rush faded, adding to the problems of the Marcos Jr. administration already beseeched by brutal inflation.
Results of a nationwide survey of 44,302 households showed there were 2.37 million Filipinos who were either jobless or out of business in January, higher than 2.22 million unemployed persons recorded in December, the Philippine Statistics Authority reported Thursday.
Analysts had expected the rise in jobless figure following the end of holiday season, which typically provides a wealth of seasonal jobs for Filipinos.
“The jump in unemployment and underemployment underscores the scarring effects and the challenges faced by the economy,” Nicholas Mapa, senior economist at ING Bank in Manila, said.
“Lower job creation amidst the cost of living crisis (not to mention surging borrowing costs) only highlights the factors that could force overall growth to slow this year,” he added.
PSA data also showed a deterioration in job quality during the first month of the year. There were 6.65 million people who looked for additional working hours to augment their income in January, higher than 6.20 million in December.
That’s equivalent to an underemployment rate of 14.1%, up from 12.6% in the preceding month.
‘Weakening’ jobs market
Joblessness became more pronounced in key sectors. Data showed jobs in construction (-557,000), fishing and aquaculture (-54,000), agriculture and forestry (-38,000), mining and quarrying (-20,000) and financial and insurance activities (-7,000) shed the most in January.
But the PSA is still bullish as employment is moving closer to 2019 levels, as the jobless rate hovered below 5%.
“The indicators seem to be showing that the unemployment rate will go back to 2019 levels starting this year. This trend started in the second half of 2022,” National statistician Claire Dennis Mapa told journalists.
Domini Velasquez, chief economist at China Banking Corp., expects gloom to take over the labor market.
“Moving forward, we might see a weakening in the jobs market as manufacturing and construction jobs will likely decline in the coming months. Latest PMI report and real estate outlook are moderating this year,” she said in a Viber message.