4.25M jobless Filipinos in September, highest in over a year

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 4) — More Filipinos found themselves out of work in September amid lingering quarantine restrictions, the Philippine Statistics Authority said Thursday.

PSA chief Dennis Mapa announced that 4.25 million workers aged 15 and up lost their jobs during the month — up from August’s 3.88 million tally. That brought national unemployment rate to 8.9%, rising from 8.1% the month prior.

September’s figures are the highest since July last year, when there were 4.57 million unemployed Filipinos or a joblessness rate of roughly 10%.

The tally of underemployed individuals — or those seeking more work hours or additional job opportunities — fell from 43.59 million to 44.23 million. The underemployment rate in September was at 14.2% compared to 14.7% in August.

­About 43.59 million persons had jobs in September, slightly easing from 44.23 million the month prior. The employment rate stood at 91.1% during the month, down from August’s 91.9%.

In sum, the labor force was composed of 47.85 million individuals in September, equal to a 63.3% labor force participation rate (LFPR). These figures are mildly lower than August’s 48.12 million tally and 63.6% LFPR.

Trade and repair of motor vehicles led the industries with the highest month-on-month increase in jobs at 353,000, followed by public administration and defense; education; construction; and administrative and support service activities.

Agriculture and forestry, meanwhile, shed the most jobs in September at 862,000. Mapa noted this loss had a major contribution to September’s unemployment tally, triggered by weather conditions during the month.

Manufacturing trails the said industry in logging the highest unemployment loss month-on-month, followed by information and communication, mining and quarrying, and real estate.

Filipinos with jobs worked an average of 40.2 hours per week in September, higher than August’s 39.6-hour mean.

Meanwhile, employed persons cited lockdowns, variable working time or nature of work, and personal reasons as primary factors barring them from reporting to work.

Metro Manila began a pilot run of the current COVID-19 alert level system in September, doing away with community-wide quarantine restrictions in place of granular lockdowns favored by business groups and local government units. From modified enhanced community quarantine, the capital region was placed under Alert Level 4 for the latter half of September — the second strictest classification in the scheme.

National Economic and Development Authority chief Karl Chua said September’s figures were “expected” as most areas in the Philippines were under stringent and blanket quarantines for the bulk of the survey period, which ran from Sept. 8 to 28.

Chua noted better labor numbers may be expected this October with the full impact of granular lockdowns in the capital region.

“We look forward to the expansion of the alert level and granular lockdown system to the whole country to recover more jobs and livelihoods,” he added.

Jobs portal sees lower unemployment in coming months

In the following months, JobStreet Country Manager Philip Gioca said they are seeing lower unemployment rate as reflected by the 30% increase in job advertisements on their platform. Job openings are also mostly from local companies.

Sectors like healthcare, construction, banking, retail and merchandise, information technology, and manufacturing and production, are seeing double-digit growth, he told CNN Philippines.

Gioca added "tourism will be a big hit in the next two months," as well as retail and merchandising, as the Christmas season approaches.

"If we push this forward, we'll be back on pre-pandemic levels," he noted.

Meanwhile, Gioca said more foreign companies have also shifted to remote working - hiring full-time employees who are still based in their country but their principals are abroad.