Unemployed Pinoys down to 2.93M in January 2022 —PSA

Unemployed Pinoys down to 2.93M in January 2022 —PSA

The number of jobless Filipinos declined in January this year despite the stricter quarantine level in Metro Manila, the country’s economic capital, for almost the entirety of the month, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported on Friday.advertisement

At a virtual press briefing, PSA chief and National Statistician Claire Dennis Mapa said the number of unemployed adults, or those aged 15 and above, in January stood at 2.93 million, reflecting an unemployment rate of 6.4%.

This is lower than the 6.6% unemployment rate recorded in December 2021 and around 340,000 short of the 3.27 million jobless recorded in the last month of 2021.

January 2022’s unemployment rate is also the lowest since the peak of the COVID-19 lockdowns in April 2020, when the all-time high unemployment rate of 17.6% or 7.3 million jobless was  recorded, according to Mapa.

To recall, the National Capital Region and several other areas of the country were placed under Alert Level 3 from January 3 to January 31 to quell the spread of the Omicron variant and the surge in new COVID-19 cases.

Under Alert Level 3, several establishments will be allowed to operate at 30% indoor venue capacity but exclusively for fully vaccinated people and 50% outdoor venue capacity as long as employees are fully vaccinated.

In-person classes, contact sports, funfairs/perya, and casinos are among the activities and establishments that are prohibited under Alert Level 3.

While the number of jobless adults eased in the first month of the year despite the stricter mobility restrictions, Mapa said this was not “significantly different” as the labor force participation rate — the percentage of individuals who are actively looking for work in the adult population — slipped to 60.5% from 65.1% in December 2021.

In terms of magnitude, the number of labor force participants stood at 45.94 million in January, a decline of about 3.61 million adult Filipinos who were either employed or unemployed from 49.55 million in December 2021.

“Ang nakikita ng datos ng PSA, mas kumonti ang nag-participate sa labor force
(What the PSA’s data show is that labor force participation declined),” Mapa said, explaining how quarantine restrictions impact labor force participation.

Employed, underemployed

While the number of jobless individuals declined, employed Filipinos also declined to 43.02 million during the first month of 2022 from 46.27 million in December 2021.

However, in terms of employment rate, January’s print was at 93.6%, slightly higher than December last year’s 93.4% amid the lower labor force participation in the first month of the year due to stricter mobility restrictions during the period.

“Another reason for lower employment levels is the end of the holiday season which shed off seasonal jobs. Despite this, net employment remains at 0.5 million above the pre-pandemic level,” the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Karl Chua said in a separate statement.

The quality of jobs also declined as the underemployment rate – the percentage of persons with jobs or livelihoods but expressed desire to have additional hours of work or to have an additional job – increased to 14.9% from 14.7%.

“The Omicron surge caused a temporary decline in our employment levels. Now that we have contained the spread of the virus and shifted to alert level 1 in most parts of the country, we look forward to an improvement in employment outcomes in the coming months,” Chua said.

Regions

Across regions, eight of the country’s 17 regions posted higher unemployment rates than the 6.4% national estimate.

These were Region VII at 8.0%, Region V at 7.8%, BARMM at 7.5%, Region IV-A at 7.4%, NCR at 7.3%, Region I at 7.2%, Region VIII at 7.0%, and MIMAROPA at 6.5%.

Meanwhile, the CAR registered the highest labor force participation rate at 65% while BARMM registered the lowest at 55.6%.

By sex, labor force participation was higher among men at 72.9% than to women at 48.1% in January 2022.

Likewise, the employment rate among men was higher at 93.9% compared to 93.2 percent among women. However, the underemployment rate among men was higher at 16.4% than their women counterpart at 12.5%.

Sectors

The PSA reported that the services sector continued its dominance over other sectors having the largest share of employed persons at 58.9%.

The agriculture and the industry sectors contributed 21.7% and 19.3%, respectively to the 43.02 million employed population.

Reopen the economy

The NEDA chief said that since March 15, 2022, 70% of the economy has already shifted to Alert Level 1.

“This means that more restrictions were removed on travel and capacity limits on establishments were eased. This translates to an additional P10.8 billion per week of economic activity for the country and 195,000 less unemployed over the next quarter, compared to Alert Level 2,” Chua said.

Under Alert Level 1, businesses will be allowed to operate at 100% operating capacity. There will be no more age restrictions. Physical barriers will be removed and digital contact tracing will be optional.

Chua also emphasized the need to reopen all schools in Alert Level 1 for face-to-face learning as this will provide a big boost to the economy, enable children to learn more, and allow more parents to go back to work.

He earlier said opening all 60,743 schools for in-person learning would increase economic activity by P12 billion per week.

“We reiterate the need for the full and urgent resumption of face-to-face classes to maximize the benefits of Alert Level 1. This can increase economic activity by around P12 billion per week due to the return of related services around schools. It will also free up the time of parents, one in four of whom have to skip or reduce work hours in order to assist their children with online classes at home,” Chua said.

To cushion the most vulnerable from the impact of inflationary pressures due to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, the government will distribute targeted subsidies amounting to P6.1 billion.

Among the primary beneficiaries are transport and agriculture and fisheries sector workers.

At the same time, the government is also planning to provide unconditional cash transfers of P2,400 for the bottom 50% of households to mitigate the impact of rising prices of basic goods.

NEDA has also recommended a four-day workweek, with 10 hours each day, as a measure to help conserve energy and reduce transportation costs.

The same strategy was employed during the 1990s in the midst of the Gulf War and in 2008 amid high oil prices.

“As we continue to face these temporary setbacks, the government is determined to support our workers by putting in place these measures to help all affected sectors,” Chua said.—KBK/AOL, GMA News

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