The unemployment rate in the PHILIPPINES fell to its lowest level since the start of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic in July.
Preliminary data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that the unemployment rate — or the share of unemployed Filipinos in the total labor force — fell to 5.2% in July, up from 6% in June and 7.2% in July last year.
It was the lowest unemployment rate since the PSA began reporting monthly labor force survey results in 2021.
Taking into account the quarterly surveys, the unemployment rate in July was the lowest since 4.5% in October 2019.
The number of unemployed Filipinos reached 2.602 million in July, down 388,000 from June. It was also down 627,000 from last year’s level of 3.229 million.
“We expect more jobs and income-generating opportunities for Filipinos in the coming months as we move toward the full opening of the economy,” Socio-Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan said in a statement.
Mr. Balisakan said that this will help mitigate the effects of otherfltional pressure on the purchasing power of consumers.
“I really think that the recovery of the economy contributed to the fact that the unemployment rate was lower than in the previous month. According to the PSA, we still have about 600,000-plus jobs to return to pre-pandemic levels,” UnionBank of the Philippines, Inc. chief economist said in an email. Ruben Carlo O. Asuncion.
Among the regions, the unemployment rate was the highest in the country’s capital region in July at 6.9%, and the lowest in the Cagayan Valley at 2.8%.
Meanwhile, job quality worsened as the underemployment rate rose to 13.8% in July from 12.6% in June. However, this was still lower than the unemployment rate of 21% last July.
This is the highest unemployment rate in two months, or 14.5% since May.
In absolute terms, the number of Filipinos already working but still looking for more work or longer hours in the total employed population increased by 655,000 month-on-month to 6.543 million in July. However, this was 2.226 million less than the 8.769 million underemployed Filipinos registered last July.
The labor force was estimated at 49.994 million in July, up 412,000 from 49.581 million in June. As a result, the labor force participation rate (LFPR) reached 65.2% of the country’s working-age population in July, up from 64.8% the previous month.
The number of new labor force entrants reached 1.289 million in July, up from 980,619 registered in June.
The employment rate in July reached 94.8% against 94.0% in June. This translates to 47.391 million employed Filipinos that month from 46.592 million earlier.
The services sector remained the largest source of jobs in July after the employment rate stood at 58.8%, up from 56.5% in June.
However, employment in agriculture and industry fell to 23.5% (from 24.5% in June) and 17.7% (from 19%) in July, respectively.
Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa Secretary-Gen. Josua T. Mata said the quality of jobs being created in the country was “alarming.”
“What we’re seeing is more part-time than full-time […] At the same time, job losses in key sectors such as education and healthcare are a serious concern. After all, we are in the midst of an education crisis, even if we have not yet fully ended the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic,” Mr. Mata said in a Viber message.
“The continued loss of manufacturing jobs means we are losing high value-added jobs. It is obvious that industrial development is still bad hereffcaused by challenges in global supply chains. In combination with a highflrates, these trends do not bode well for workers,” he added.
Several subsectors showed month-over-month job losses in agriculture and forestry (down 263,000 to 9.730 million in July), construction (down 200,000 to 4.523 million), manufacturing (down 152,000 to 3.494 million), mining industry (a decrease of 145,000). to 192,711), and education (down 108,000 to 1.389 million).
On the other hand, job gains were recorded in wholesale and retail trade (up 941,000 month-over-month to 10.665 million in July), accommodation and food service (up 227,000 to 1.902 million), and government management and defense (up to 122,000). to 2.886 million).
National Statistician Claire Denise S. Mapa said at a press conference that quarter-over-quarter industrial job losses were mostly in the manufacturing of semiconductor devices and other electronic components, readymade embroidered clothing and baked goods.
“Comparing April and July 2022, it can be seen that the last few months in the production of bakery products have seen a decrease in the number of people employed. And the possible reason is the cost of input materials,” Mr. Mapa said.
In the seven months to July, the unemployment rate averaged 5.9%, which is 8% lower than in the same period last year.
The unemployment rate also improved, averaging 14.2% in the seven months to July, compared with 16.4% a year ago.
The employment rate between January and July was 94.1% from 92% last year, while the LFPR increased slightly to 63.9% over the same period from 63%.
The average employed Filipino worked 40.5 hours per week in July, slightly higher than the 40.3 hours registered in the previous month, but lower than the 41.7 hours in July last year.
IMPACT OF INFLATION
Analysts said the rise in underemployment suggests workers are looking for better or bigger jobs as they try to cope with rising prices.
“It’s harder for people to get around because of higher gasoline prices, so people will probably prefer to work from home, which is basically a part-time option,” Ateneo de Manila University Center for Economic Research and Development Associate Director Sir Percival K … Peña-Reyes said in a Viber call.
“And now we see that inflation is rising. And going to work is a cost of mobility,” he added.
Headline inflation rose to a 45-month high of 6.4% annually in July, driven by sharp increases in food and transport prices. That was faster than 6.1% in June and 3.7% last year.
The transportation index, which makes up nearly a tenth of the overall consumer basket, rose to 18.1% in July from 17.1% in June due to higher utility rates.
Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) vice president Luis C. Corral urged economic leaders “not to treat business as usual.”
“Globally, many economies are in free fall or recession. And our export markets, for example, many orders are canceled. In addition, the international export market is softening. And this softening will greatly affect the Philippines. They must act with a sense of urgency and speed. Our economic leaders also say that our economy has not been significantly affected by the dollar, but I don’t think so. So we’re pushing to create more quality jobs,” Mr. Corral told Viber.
The peso fell to a new record low against the US dollar on Thursday for the fifth day in a row. The local unit shed 4.5 centavos fito P57.18 per dollar, data from the Bankers Association of the Philippines showed.
Mr Peña-Reyes cited the peso’s depreciation, food shortages and the effects of the US Federal Reserve’s aggressive policy tightening as key factors that couldffin the labor market in the coming months.
“Domestically, we are facing rising inflation and monetary policy rates, and the national government must be able to respond well to economic challenges and set the economy up for a stronger post-pandemic recovery,” Mr Asuncion said. — Ana Olivia A. Tirona