Jobless Filipinos in November down to 3.16 million, but underemployment up anew

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 7) — Fewer Filipinos were out of work last November ​with the further easing of quarantine restrictions ​but more sought better job opportunities, latest figures from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed

The PSA’s latest Labor Force Survey found that 3.16 million persons aged 15 and up were unemployed during the month. This is the lowest tally since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, National Statistician Dennis Mapa said Friday during a virtual briefing.

This led to a national joblessness rate of 6.5% in November, lower than the 7.4% recorded the month prior.

Total employed Filipinos were estimated at 45.48 million, up from October’s 43.83 million. The employment rate, meanwhile, stood at 93.5% this November.

The fishing and aquaculture industry logged the highest spike in fresh jobs during the month, followed by other service activities such as computer repairs and wellness services — which include spas and hairdressing.

However, human health and social work activities shed the most jobs in November, which Mapa attributed primarily to the drop in employment among dental activities.

The Filipino worker logged an average of 39.6 hours per week during the month, slightly down from the 39.7 mean recorded in October.

Meanwhile, personal reasons topped the grounds cited by employed adults unable to report to work. Coming in next were health limitations, and variable time or nature of work.

November saw the gradual implementation of COVID-19 alert level system instead of community-wide quarantines. By the month's end, Metro Manila and other areas were placed under the looser Alert Level 2.

“Decent headway made in the past few months as the economy gradually reopens. However the current level of employment is still well-below the Pre-covid unemployment average: 5.5%,” said ING senior economist Nicholas Antonio Mapa in a note.

Underemployment rises again

But even with the lower joblessness count and more Filipinos finding work during the month, the country’s underemployment figures worsened again in November.

The number of individuals seeking more work hours stood at 7.62 million, rising from 7.04 million in October. Underemployment has been going up since September, which had a 6.18 million tally.

Dahil hindi pa talaga stable ‘yung operation ng mga companies, talagang may mga sektor pa tayo na mataas ‘yung underemployment rate,” said the PSA chief.

[Translation: Because the operations of companies aren’t really that stable yet, we really still have sectors with high underemployment rates.]

Agriculture and forestry led these industries, followed by arts, entertainment and culture; fishing and aquaculture; and public administration and defense.