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Philippine unemployment rate hit 18-year low in October 2023

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The Philippines’ unemployment rate reached its lowest level in nearly two decades in October 2023, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

The national unemployment rate dropped to 4.2 percent in October from 4.5 percent in the same month last year. This represents the lowest unemployment rate since April 2005, the PSA said.

It said that in terms of absolute numbers, about 2.09 million Filipinos were unemployed in October 2023, a decrease from 2.24 million recorded a year ago.

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) attributed the positive labor market developments to the government’s efforts to create an environment conducive to high-quality job creation. However, NEDA also stressed the importance of expanding reskilling and upskilling opportunities for Filipinos to keep pace with evolving job demands.

The October 2023 labor force survey also revealed a positive employment rate of 95.8 percent, exceeding the 95.5 percent recorded in October 2022 and marking the highest level since April 2005. This translates to about 47.80 million employed Filipinos aged 15 and above, an increase from 47.06 million employed in the same period last year.

The underemployment rate, which refers to the percentage of employed individuals seeking additional work hours, also saw a decline. The PSA reported a 11.7-percent underemployment rate in October 2023, down from 14.2 percent in October 2022.

The Labor Force survey indicated that most new employment opportunities were generated in middle-skilled (+334,000) and high-skilled occupations (+897,000), primarily driven by the expansion of the tourism and information technology-business process outsourcing (IT-BPO) sectors.

NEDA Secretary Arsenio Balisacan expressed optimism that the labor market would continue to improve, citing the Marcos administration’s focus on promoting trade and investments, which is expected to boost job creation.

“We can make the labor market more inclusive by attracting more investments, particularly those that bring in new and better technology. We also need to expand and enhance learning opportunities to equip Filipinos for future jobs,” Balisacan said.

Balisacan said he expects that the positive labor market trend to continue following the recent signing of Republic Act No. 11966, also known as the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Code, by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Dec. 5, 2023. The law is expected to strengthen the country’s investment climate by fostering a more stable and predictable environment for collaboration on high-impact infrastructure projects.

“The passage of the PPP Code is just one of several recent reforms that have made the Philippines more attractive to foreign investors. It provides the government with a stronger framework for attracting investments, which in turn creates employment opportunities for Filipino workers in various critical growth areas, including infrastructure,” said Balisacan.


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