PH jobless tally slightly rises to 2.68M in August; underemployed tops 7M

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 6) — Around 2.68 million Filipinos aged 15 and up were out of work in August, slightly more than the 2.6 million count the prior month, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported Thursday.

This is equivalent to a national unemployment rate of 5.3% compared to July's 5.2%, said National Statistician Dennis Mapa.

Fishing and aquaculture shed 286,000 jobs month-on-month in August, the worst among major industries. Construction came next followed by arts, entertainment, and recreation; human health and social work activities; and real estate.

On an annual basis, agriculture and forestry led the pack with a loss of 140,000 jobs. It was followed by fishing and aquaculture, construction, manufacturing, along with information and communication.

The mild uptick in unemployment came with the month-on-month increase in the number of persons in the labor force of about 557,000 according to Mapa, adding that not all new entrants were able to get jobs.

A labor force participation rate of 66.1% was reported in August, up from 65.2% the previous month.

The larger labor force size also led to a slightly lower employment rate of 94.7%, despite the number of employed Filipinos growing by 478,000 to 47.39 million.

Wholesale and retail trade, and repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles posted the largest jump in employment both month-on-month at 378,000 jobs and year-on-year at 1.54 million jobs.

Other industries which gained the most jobs from July were transportation and storage, manufacturing, financial and insurance activities, along with professional, scientific, and technical activities.

Annually, accommodation and food service activities also saw a big boost in employment followed by administrative and support service activities, transportation and storage, and education.

Underemployment up anew

The number of Filipinos seeking more work hours or better job opportunities also rose in August to 7.03 million, up 548,000 from the previous month.

This translated to an underemployment rate of 14.7%, surpassing July's 13.8%.

Mapa attributed this increase partially to new entrants in the workforce, who might have gotten work but still considered themselves underemployed. About 12.5% of new entrants in August were underemployed, he noted.

"May nagco-contribute talaga na underemployed from the new entrants. But there are also underemployed doon sa existing member of the labor force na," he added.

[Translation: Some new entrants really contributed to the country's underemployed count. But there were also underemployed persons among the existing members of the labor force.]

In a separate tweet, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) chief Arsenio Balisacan noted the "broad" improvement in labor market figures year-on-year was "mainly at par with major Asian economies."

In its push for prioritizing investment opportunities for productive sectors and bolstering human capital, the NEDA said it will strive for a "more efficient" labor market through strategies in the upcoming Philippine Development Plan 2023-2028.

These include improving the quality of education, providing opportunities for life-long learning, developing in-demand skills, enhancing job facilitation, and strengthening linkages among industries, businesses, and training institutions.