Jobless rate rises slightly in August  

Louella Desiderio - The Philippine Star
Jobless rate rises slightly in August   
File photo of people walking on Taft Avenue, Manila taken on February 16 2022. The Department of Health announced that it has detected its first cases of the more infectious Omicron BA.5 subvariant on June 3 2022.
Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — The number of jobless Filipinos went up in August compared to the previous month, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

In a briefing yesterday, National Statistician Dennis Mapa said preliminary results of the Labor Force Survey showed 2.68 million unemployed Filipinos in August, up from the 2.6 million recorded in July.

This translates to a 5.3 percent unemployment rate in August, which rose from 5.2 percent in July.

The number of jobless Filipinos in August, however, declined compared to the 3.88 million unemployed in the same month last year.

Sub-sectors that posted the biggest month-on-month drop in the number of employed individuals in August were fishing and aquaculture (286,000); construction (258,000); arts, entertainment and recreation (64,000); human health and social work activities (37,000) and real estate activities (37,000).

Mapa said the unemployment in the fisheries sector may have been affected by unfavorable weather conditions and high prices of fuel.

“There are two reasons we see here. Of course we have the weather. But they were also hit by the rise in prices of diesel,” he said.

On the construction sector, he said this may be due to the increasing prices of building materials.

The number of underemployed or those looking for additional hours of work or an additional job climbed to 7.03 million in August from 6.54 million in July, and 6.48 million in August of the previous year.

The underemployed individuals translated to a higher underemployment rate of 14.7 percent in August from 13.8 percent in July.

While the number of unemployed and underemployed individuals went up month-on-month in August, those who were employed also increased to 47.87 million in August from 47.39 million in July, and compared to the 44.23 million in August of last year.

The employment rate for August was at 94.7 percent, down slightly from the 94.8 percent in July.

Industries which posted the largest increase in employment in August were wholesale and retail trade, repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles (378,000), transportation and storage, manufacturing (178,000), financial and insurance activities and professional, scientific and technical activities (82,000).

Mapa said while the number of jobless individuals went up, those who were employed also increased as more people entered the labor force in August.

There were 50.55 million people in the labor force in August, higher than the 49.99 million in July.

The labor force participation rate rose to 66.1 percent in August from 65.2 percent in July.

Mapa attributed the higher labor force participation to increased economic activity with the easing of restrictions.

He said many of those who just entered the labor force are coming from the 15 to 24 and 25 to 34 age groups.

Mapa said there is an expectation that employment would increase starting September due to seasonal activities, although, high prices may pose some challenges.

Inflation hit 6.9 percent in September, a four-year high, due to faster increases in food prices.

For his part, Ateneo de Manila University economics professor Leonardo Lanzona said in an email, that more people are looking for work to cope with hardships.

“Even if they are willing to accept low quality jobs, unemployment increased,” he said.

Lanzona said there is a need for the government to come up with a post-pandemic recovery program.

For the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), prioritizing investment opportunities in the productive sectors and strengthening the country’s human capital would generate more high-quality and resilient jobs.

NEDA chief Arsenio Balisacan said it is important to harness the benefits of key economic liberalization laws such as the Public Service Act, Foreign Investments Act, and Retail Trade Liberalization Act.

“These reforms would attract high-value and innovation-driven investments which, in turn, could generate more and quality employment,” he said.

He also said there is a need to ensure the effective implementation of 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,” he said.

He said strategies for a more efficient labor market will be outlined in the upcoming development blueprint or the Philippine Development Plan for 2023 to 2028. These include 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.


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