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Unemployment dropped to 4.3% in December from 6.6% a year ago

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The country’s unemployment rate dropped to 4.3 percent in December 2022, significantly lower than the 6.6 percent registered a year ago, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said Wednesday.

DUCKS FOR SALE. A man carries a bunch of ducks he is selling for P500 each in Makati City on Wednesday. The unemployment rate in the country rose to 4.3% in December 2022 equivalent to 2.22 billion jobless Filipinos according to the Philippine Statistics Authority. This is higher than the 2.18 million unemployed Filipinos in November. Danny Pata

The latest jobless rate, however, was slightly higher compared to the all-time low of 4.2 percent in November 2022 as job losses were recorded in the agriculture sector due to recent weather disturbances.

National Statistician and Civil Registrar General Dennis Mapa said on the average, the unemployment rate in 2022 stood at 5.4 percent, nearing the pre-pandemic level of 5.1 percent in 2019.

The unemployment rate was 7.8 percent in 2021 and 10.4 percent in 2020.

The employment rate in December 2022 was estimated at 95.7 percent, slightly lower than November’s 95.8 percent but higher than the 93.4 percent employment rate reported in December 2021. The employment rate of 95.7 percent in December 2022 translates to 49 million employed Filipinos 15 years old and over.

The labor force participation rate (LFPR) in December 2022 was at 66.4 percent, equivalent to 51.22 million individuals in the labor force. The LFPR in December 2022 was lower than November 2022’s 67.5 percent but higher than the 65.1 percent in December 2021.

The average weekly hours worked by an employed person in December 2022 increased to 40.3, from 39.3 and 39.7 hours per week in November 2022 and December 2021, respectively.

The underemployment rate in December 2022 declined to 12.6 percent from 14.4 percent in November 2022. This was lower than the reported rate in the same period in 2021 at 14.7 percent.

National Economic and Development Authority Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said the labor market continued to record gains as more Filipinos pursued and attained high-quality jobs amid the now fully-opened economy.

“The government remains committed to providing more, better and green job opportunities to Filipinos and sustaining a vibrant labor market through the strategies articulated in the Philippine Development Plan 2023-2028,” Balisacan said.

Top employment contributors in December 2022 include wholesale and retail trade, other service activities, and accommodation and food service activities, which were boosted by the full resumption of commercial activities, pent-up demand, and holiday spending. However, these were tempered by losses in agriculture due to weather disturbances and the spread of infectious diseases among livestock and poultry.

Balisacan said alongside providing high-quality jobs to the people, the government must ensure that their skills are not just aligned with current in-demand requirements but can also continuously keep up with the demands of evolving and emerging jobs.

By broad industry group, the services sector continued to lead all sectors, having the largest share of employed persons with 58.9 percent of the total employed persons in December 2022. The agriculture and industry sectors accounted for 24.0 percent and 17.1 percent of the total employed persons, respectively. With Macon Ramos-Araneta

The top five sub-sectors with the highest month-on-month increase in the number of employed in December 2022 are agriculture and forestry (829,000); fishing and aquaculture (291,000); administrative and support service activities (257,000); construction (138,000); and other service activities (123,000).

On the other hand, the top five sub-sectors with the highest drop in the number of employed persons from November 2022 to December 2022 were manufacturing (-585,000); wholesale and retail trade, repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles (-387,000); accommodation and food service activities (-240,000); human health and social work activities (-239,000); and real estate activities (-168,000).

Wage and salary workers continued to account for the largest share of employed persons with 61.6 percent in December 2022, followed by the self-employed without any paid employee at 27.7 percent and unpaid family workers at 8.7 percent. Employees in family-operated farms or businesses had the lowest share at 2.0 percent.

Government data show the country’s unemployment rate averaged 8.59 percent from 1986 until 2022, reaching an all-time high of 17.60 percent in June of 2020 at the height of the first lockdowns during the pandemic.

To strengthen the job market, Senator Grace Poe urged the government to implement the Public Services Act to entice investors to support job generation and bring quality services to consumers.

She also pushed for more financial and technical assistance to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to boost the sector comprising 90 percent of businesses in the country. With Macon Ramos-Araneta

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