Number of unemployed Filipinos falls to 3.07 million in July, but labor force participation down

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 6) — About 3.07 million Filipinos were unable to find work in July amid lingering quarantine restrictions, the Philippine Statistics Authority reported on Tuesday.

National Statistician Dennis Mapa reported a national unemployment rate of 6.9% among those aged 15 and up, easing from June’s 7.7%. July’s tally is slightly better than the 3.76 million recorded the month prior.

However, the country’s labor force dwindled to 44.74 million in July from 48.84 million in June — the latest tally corresponding to a 59.8% labor force participation rate. Survey participants not looking for work mainly cited the pandemic and difficulty in finding jobs, noted Mapa.

Metro Manila logged the highest joblessness rate among regions at 9% — but milder than 14% in April, the last conduct of the quarterly labor force survey. The capital region was under general community quarantine (GCQ) "with some restrictions" during the first half of July.

It eventually eased to the regular GCQ. Metro Manila, however, was placed under GCQ “with heightened and additional restrictions” from July 30 to Aug. 5 as local authorities aimed to stomp the rise in COVID-19 infections said to be driven by the feared Delta variant.

Other areas were placed under different quarantine levels ranging from modified enhanced community quarantine, GCQ, and modified GCQ.

Meanwhile, the Cordillera Administrative Region had the lowest unemployment rate at 3.8%. Nine regions saw rates go up, while the remaining eight logged lower joblessness figures.

There are about 41.67 million people with jobs in July or a 93.1% employment rate, improving from 45.08 million or 92.3% percentage in June.

Services once again had the biggest chunk of employment in terms of sectors at 57.9%, improving in July along with industries at 20%. Agriculture, however, saw less jobs during the month at 22.1%.

Professional, scientific and technical activities led the major industries with the largest month-on-month growth in employment figures at 192,000. Administrative and support service activities, transportation and storage, construction, along with accommodation and food service activities followed.

Trade and repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles logged the biggest drop in employment in July, slashing 1.98 million jobs from June. Agriculture and forestry, education, fishing and aquaculture, and public administration and defense also saw month-on-month decreases in jobs.

Underemployment worsens anew

Mapa likewise reported a 20.9% underemployment rate in July, equal to 8.69 million Filipinos seeking more work hours or better job opportunities.

This is way up from 14.2% in June, wherein 6.41 million individuals were underemployed.

MIMAROPA led the regions in underemployment at 31.2%, zooming from 24.2% three months prior. All regions saw underemployment rates go up except for Metro Manila and Caraga.

Central Luzon registered the mildest underemployment rate at 13.4%, also higher from 9.6% in April.

Workers logged in an average of 41.8 hours per week, leaping from the 39-hour median in June.

About 30.6% of employed persons worked less than 40 hours in a week while 68.7% logged over 40 hours.

The remaining 0.7% had jobs but were not at work, citing variable working time or nature of work along with lockdowns as their main reasons.

Malacañang welcomed the latest figures, noting the lower joblessness numbers were due to efforts to reopen the economy safely.

"Sana po patuloy na ang pagbubukas ng ekonomiya nang mas marami pa sa atin ang magkaroon ng hanapbuhay. We are aiming for total health," presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.

[Translation: Hopefully the economy can further be reopened so more of us can have jobs.]

Economic managers, meanwhile, assured the public that authorities will keep adjusting its risk management strategy and intensifying its health response amid the pandemic.

The economic team composed of the Department of Finance, Department of Budget and Management, and National Economic and Development Authority reiterated the importance of speeding up the COVID-19 vaccine drive and passage of key economic bills to usher in recovery.