3.88M Filipinos unemployed in August amid return of strict lockdowns - PSA

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 30) — The return of tight quarantine rules in August barred more Filipinos from finding jobs, latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed.

National Statistician Dennis Mapa reported on Thursday about 3.88 million individuals aged 15 and up were unable to find work during the month — climbing from the 3.07 million tallied in July.

The latest figure yielded a national unemployment rate of 8.1%, also worse than the 6.9% rate recorded the month prior.

Main economic hub Metro Manila shifted to general community quarantine (GCQ) "with heightened and additional restrictions" from July 30 to August 5 in a bid to quash the increase in COVID-19 cases said to be fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant.

The region then shifted to a two-week enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) period starting August 6.

Laguna, a key neighbor of the National Capital Region, also reverted to strict lockdowns during the month.

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

"Kapag may ECQ, ang apektado talaga ay ang unemployment rate. Malaki ang impact ng ECQ, particularly 'yung National Capital Region," Mapa said during a virtual briefing.

[Translation: When there is an ECQ, the unemployment rate is really affected. The impact of the ECQ is huge, particularly in the National Capital Region.]

Employment rate also dipped to 91.9% against July's 93.1%, translating to 44.23 million out of 48.12 million individuals in the labor force were employed. However, the figure in August was higher versus the 91.3% recorded in April, when the national government imposed hard lockdowns in the NCR Plus bubble.

Mapa also reported a drop in the underemployment rate, which stood at 14.7%. Underemployed Filipinos seeking more work hours or better job opportunities reached 6.48 million in August, down by 2.21 million from July's 8.69 million.

Meanwhile, the country's labor force improved to 48.12 million from 44.74 million in July—corresponding to a 63.6% labor force participation rate.

Mapa said the increase in labor participation could be attributed to graduates entering the labor market.

Although falling to 24.76 million employed individuals from July's 24.14 million, the services sector continued to have the most gains in the employment hub with 56%.

Agriculture picked up during the month at 25.1% from 22.1% a month earlier. The industry sector's share to total employment, however, went down to 18.9% from 20% in July.

Agriculture and forestry led the major industries with the largest month-on-month growth in employment figures at 1.78 million. Wholesale and retail trade, repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles came second with 992,000. Manufacturing, other service activities, and fishing and aquaculture followed.

Education posted the biggest drop in employment in August, slashing 238,000 jobs from July. Administrative and support service activities, professional scientific technical activities, construction, and human health and social work activities also saw month-on-month decreases in jobs.

CNN Philippines' Pilar Manuel, Lisbet Esmael contributed to this report.