Number of jobless Filipinos falls to 3.5M in October 2021

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 7) — Fewer Filipinos were unemployed in October amid quarantine restrictions, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported Tuesday.

PSA chief Dennis Mapa said 3.5 million Filipinos aged 15 and up were unemployed during the month — compared to the 4.25 million recorded in September and 3.81 million in October last year.

The recent tally yielded a national joblessness rate of 7.4% in October, lower than 8.9% during the previous month and 8.7% last year. The latest figures are the lowest since July this year, which tallied 3.07 million jobless Filipinos or a 6.9% unemployment rate.

Some 43.83 million adults were employed in October, slightly up from 43.59 million in September.

However, more Filipinos were underemployed during the month. PSA estimates show 7.04 million were seeking better jobs or additional work hours in October — up from 6.18 million in September. The recent outturn led to a 16.1% national underemployment rate.

In sum, 47.33 million adults constituted the labor force during the period. This is equal to a 62.6% labor force participation rate, roughly lower than September’s numbers.

In terms of industries, agriculture and forestry emerged as the biggest gainer in jobs this October compared to July, the last time the quarterly labor force survey was held.

The sector added 1.35 million jobs during the period, and was followed by trade and repair of motors and motorcycles; fishing and aquaculture; public administration and defense; and human health and social work activities.

Construction, however, lost the most jobs on a quarterly basis at 291,000. Other big losers were manufacturing; transportation and storage; professional, scientific, and technical activities; and financial and insurance activities.

The PSA also reported that an average of 39.7 hours were clocked in weekly, easing from the 40.2 mean observed in September.

The agency likewise listed health limitations, variable working time or nature of work, and personal reasons as the top reasons barring employed Filipinos from reporting to work in October.

On a regional basis, Calabarzon logged the highest joblessness rate nationwide at 10.3%, while Cagayan Valley registered the lowest at 3.4%.

Caraga topped the regions as it posted underemployment rates in October at 28.2%. Davao had the lowest figure at 7.7%.

In terms of labor force participation, Northern Mindanao bested the regions with its 69.4% rate while Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao performed worst at 55.2%.

The economic team welcomed the latest figures, citing efforts to reopen the economy safely while bringing back employment and managing the spread of COVID-19.

“Better employment outcomes in October were driven by the government’s policies that further reopened the economy safely, such as shifting to the alert level system and granular lockdowns from large-area and blanket quarantines and allowing more mobility for vaccinated individuals,” the statement read.

“Credit should also be given to the close collaboration between the private sector and government not only in accelerating the inoculation drive for our people but also in enforcing the minimum health protocols to contain infections,” it added.

While Labor Assistant Secretary Dominique Rubia-Tutay acknowledged the improved unemployment numbers during a government briefing, she said the latest joblessness rate still does not fare well compared to the pre-COVID level of about 5.1%.

In line with the government's job creation efforts amid COVID-19, the Department of Labor and Employment has recently launched a hybrid jobs fair until December 13 offering around 32,000 job vacancies here and abroad.

Tutay told CNN Philippines that most of the job offerings are related to sales and food businesses since its Christmas season, as well as business process outsourcing. Around 9,000 vacancies are in Calabarzon, 7,000 in Metro Manila, and the rest are spread across the country.

Overseas opportunities are related to construction like carpentry and welding, along with health such as registered nurses, the DOLE official said. The 7,000 available jobs abroad are a mix of full-time and project-based positions and are mostly located in the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, and the Middle East.

For their part, economic managers stressed that sustaining recent gains will enable the economy to return to pre-pandemic level by early 2022.