Jobless rate worsens in August, adding pressure on inflation-hit workers

Ramon Royandoyan - Philstar.com
Motorists drive through various intersections in Cubao, Quezon City on Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022. The Metro Manila Development Authority is set to upgrade the traffic control system in Metro Manila that operates based on an intersection's volume of vehicles.
The STAR / Miguel de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 12:08 p.m.) — The proportion of jobless Filipinos rose in August, all while boiling inflation continues to smash the incomes of both households and businesses.

A survey of 10,810 families nationwide showed there were 2.68 million Filipinos who were either unemployed or out of business in August, a tad higher than the 2.6 million jobless people record in July, the Philippine Statistics Authority reported Thursday.

The latest reading translates to a jobless rate of 5.3% in August, up from 5.2% rate in the preceding month.

That the unemployment rate inched up while the country grapples with red-hot inflation increases the urgency for the nascent Marcos administration to tame stubbornly high consumer prices. Government data showed inflation, as measured in the consumer price index, accelerated 6.3% year-on-year in August.

Already, the rising cost of living has prompted more Filipinos to look for additional jobs to augment their income. The PSA reported that there were 7.03 million people who were underemployed in August, higher than 6.54 million recorded in July.

This is equivalent to an underemployment rate of 14.7% in August, up from 13.8% in the previous month.

Inflation impact

Economic subsectors that recorded the largest month-on-month increases in joblessness were fishing and aquaculture (286,000); construction (258,000); arts, entertainment and recreation (64,000); health and social work activities (37,000); and real estate activities (37,000).

The elevated prices of goods and services which, in turn, pushed input costs up for many businesses, had much to do with flailing figures of employment. For example, National Statistician Claire Dennis Mapa explained that joblessness within the fisheries sector was impacted by bad weather and expensive diesel prices.

“We’ve seen in the past that their fishing expeditions and such could be affected by diesel prices. Workers lamented higher diesel prices so they cut back on trips,” Mapa said.

For Leonardo Lanzona, an economist at Ateneo De Manila University, the Marcos Jr. administration needs to exert more effort to improve the quality of living in the country. He explained that the uptick in underemployment means workers are willing to accept low-paying jobs to survive.

“The government has not established a post-pandemic recovery program.  All their projections have been based on hope,” Lanzona added.

Despite the stark numbers, the PSA said the August outturn produced the highest labor force participation rate, at 66.1%. This explains the uptrend in employment and jobless figures, since more Filipinos aged 15 years old and above joined the workforce.




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