Jobless Filipinos increase to 2.37M in January from 2.2M in December

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 9) — The number of unemployed Filipinos rose to 2.37 million in January, higher than the 2.22 million recorded a month prior, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported on Thursday.

This is equivalent to a national unemployment rate of 4.8%, up from the previous month’s 4.3%.

National Statistician Dennis Mapa previously said it was "possible" for unemployment numbers to rise following the last quarter of a year, as it was usually during the October-December period when businesses hire more workers to support strong holiday demand.

The official reiterated this during a briefing on Thursday, saying the country would record a jump in unemployment rate in the first quarter as holiday-related activities would tone down.

"Mayroon tayong seasonality dahil sa economic activities during the holiday season," Mapa said.

[Translation: We have seasonality due to economic activities during the holiday season.]

But Mapa said the unemployment rate has been improving since the second half of 2022.

"It's now below the 5% level, bumabalik na sa (it's returning to the) pre-pandemic level," he added.

Bicol region recorded the highest unemployment rate at 6.6%, while the Zamboanga Peninsula had the lowest at 2.6%.

The labor force participation rate in the period, meanwhile, inched up to 64.5%, translating to 49.72 million Filipinos either employed or looking for jobs.

The employment rate also stood at 95.2%, increasing by 4.09 million to 47.35 employed people.

The underemployment rate, on the other hand, hit 14.1%, or about 6.65 million of employed persons wanting to work longer hours and secure better job opportunities.

Mapa also attributed the jump in underemployed individuals to the "slowdown" of economic activities related to holidays.

PSA data also showed that the wholesale and retail trade recorded the highest increase in employment year-on-year with 1.53 million. It is followed by agriculture and forestry; accommodation and food service activities; transportation and storage; and other service activities.

The construction sector, on the other hand, logged the biggest drop in employment with losses of around 334,000. It is followed by water supply, sewerage, waste management and remediation activities; and professional, scientific and technical activities.