Jobless rate climbs to 4.5 percent in January

Louella Desiderio - The Philippine Star
Jobless rate climbs to 4.5 percent in January
The number of unemployed Filipinos climbed to 2.15 million in January.

MANILA, Philippines — The country’s unemployment rate rose in January as the seasonal increase in jobs created by the heightened economic activity during the Christmas holidays faded.

National Statistician Dennis Mapa said the results of the Labor Force Survey of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed the unemployment rate climbed to 4.5 percent in January from 3.1 percent in December 2023.

This translates to 2.15 million jobless Filipinos in January from the 1.6 million unemployed in December.

Based on PSA data, the country’s underemployment rate also climbed to 13.9 percent in January from 11.9 percent in December 2023.

“We are seeing that workers who were hired or joined the labor market because of the economic activities in the fourth quarter are no longer there. Of course, a portion was retained. This has a seasonal factor,” Mapa said.

The employment rate was estimated at 95.5 percent in January, lower than the 96.9 percent in December.

There were 45.94 million employed Filipinos in January, lower than the 50.52 million in December.

An estimated 6.39 million people were underemployed or expressed desire to have additional hours of work or an additional job in January, increasing from 6.01 million people in December 2023.

The country’s labor force participation rate (LFPR) in January was at 61.1 percent, lower than the 66.6 percent in December 2023.

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said household duties, age-related restrictions such as being too young or old or having a permanent disability and schooling were the top reasons cited by individuals for not joining the labor force.

It said the government remains committed to encourage both local and foreign investments in the country that create more high-quality employment opportunities.

“The government sustains its push to attract more job-generating investments by creating an enabling policy and regulatory environment. At the same time, linkages between industry, the academe and the public sector will be strengthened to address skill mismatches in the labor market,” NEDA Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said.

Balisacan said the government would also continue to implement measures responsive to the needs of vulnerable groups including women, youth, older people and those with disabilities.

He added that the existing policy framework governing alternative work arrangements would be revisited.

“Our pursuit of policies will be adaptive to the responsibilities of female workers and the evolving work landscape, with a focus on supporting the vulnerable, including those in the creative sector,” Balisacan said.

Following the approval of the implementing rules and regulations of the Trabaho para sa Bayan (TPB) Act on March 5, the NEDA chief expects the implementation of more employment programs.

The law, signed by President Marcos in September 2023, aims to promote the employability, competitiveness and productivity of workers, as well as address unemployment and underemployment.

The law paves the way for the creation of an inter-agency council to be chaired by the NEDA and co-chaired by the Department of Labor and Employment as well as the Department Trade and Industry. It is tasked to craft a masterplan for employment generation and recovery.

“The diverse perspectives from council members will expedite decision-making regarding improving working conditions across industries, promoting upskilling and reskilling, and creating high-paying employment opportunities for all,” Balisacan said.

House Speaker Martin Romualdez said the rise in the country’s unemployment rate did not come as a surprise, saying such a number is really “dynamic” and “moving.”

“The numbers of PSA are dynamics, they really move. That’s why the programs that we are doing, especially the RBH (Resolution of Both Houses) 7, will help our economy,” Romualdez told reporters on the sideline of the groundbreaking ceremony of the Philippine Cancer Center in Quezon City.

Romualdez noted if the restrictive economic provisions of the Constitution are amended, more foreign investment will come into the country, generating employment for the Filipino people. — Sheila Crisostomo

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