Jobless rate slightly increased to 5.1 percent of the labor force in October from 5 percent a year ago, the Philippine Statistics Authority said Wednesday.
Data, however, showed the underemployment rate, or the percentage of workers desiring more hours of work, declined to its lowest in more than a decade, according to the National Economic and Development Authority.
Results of of the Labor Force Survey indicated that underemployment rate dropped to 13.3 percent in October from 15.9 percent a year earlier.
This was equivalent to 1.1 million less underemployed workers from last year’s 6.6 million. It was also the lowest underemployment rate recorded for all October rounds since 2006 (20.3 percent).
“This signals that the quality of work is improving even outside the National Capital Region. We attribute this to expanding employment opportunities and the approval of nominal increases in regional wages supported by labor productivity improvements,” Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said.
Underemployment rate in areas outside NCR significantly declined to 14.6 percent in October 2018 from 17 percent in 2017, also the lowest in over a decade.
The percentage of discouraged job seekers decreased to 11.5 percent, better than the 12 percent target for 2018. However, of the total youth population, 19.9 percent was neither in employment nor in education in 2018, but still falling within the target of 19.5 percent to 21.5 percent.
Meanwhile, the unemployment rate slightly inched up to 5.1 percent, equivalent to 2.2 million unemployed persons, compared to last year. Still, the 5.3 percent unemployment rate for 2018 was at the upper end of the Philippine Development Plan 2018 target range of 4.7 percent to 5.3 percent.
Neda said the government was on track with respect to four out of seven employment targets specified in the PDP 2017-2022.
“To meet our targets, we need to fast-track strategic efforts to achieve all of our end-of-plan targets towards full and inclusive employment. There is a need to improve social protection programs for workers while providing flexibility for firms to adjust to changing market conditions. This should be complemented with the provision of unemployment insurance to support the income of displaced workers who will be negatively affected by economic disruptions,” Pernia said.
The LFS recorded around 826,000 employment generated in 2018, falling behind the government’s annual target of 900,000 to 1.1 million employment.
Pernia said to meet the employment target, the should be a simplification of issuing business permits and licenses and reduction of fees.
Data showed that in terms of gender, only 46.6 percent of women were recorded to be in the labor force for 2018, below the 49.7 percent target set for the period.
Similarly, the labor force participation rate dropped to 60.6 percent, mainly due to more youth opting for full-time studies, and females opting out of work due to household duties.
“We need to encourage more women to join the workforce, considering that our country has a high proportion of well-educated women. The recently passed Telecommuting Act will help ensure that both men and women can better share responsibilities at home, while still being productively engaged at work,” said Pernia.
“Likewise, faster implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law will also help women pursue continuing education and careers in the marketplace,” he said.
Meanwhile, youth unemployment remained high at 13.3 percent compared to the PDP 2018 target of 10.4 percent.
PSA said among the unemployed persons in October 2018, 63.6 percent were males. Of the total unemployed, the age group 15 to 24 years comprised 44.6 percent, while the age group 25 to 34 represented 30.3 percent.