The jobless rate in the Philippines fell to 5.2 percent in January amid the improving economic condition, the Philippine Statistics Authority said Thursday.
The Labor Force Survey of the PSA showed that jobless rate slightly dropped from 5.3 percent a year ago. It was the lowest unemployment rate recorded for the month of January since 2009, according to the National Economic and Development Authority.
Data, however, showed that on a quarterly basis, the jobless rate slightly picked up from 5.1 percent in October.
Among the unemployed persons in January, 64.4 percent were males. The age group 15 to 24 years comprised 43.7 percent of the total, while the age group 25 to 34 represented 30.6 percent.
By educational attainment, 20.9 percent of the unemployed were college graduates, 8.2 percent were college undergraduates and 28.2 percent completed junior high school.
Meanwhile, the employment rate improved to 94.8 percent in January 2019 from 94.7 percent a year ago. Data showed that in absolute terms, employed individuals decreased 0.9 percent or 387,000 workers to 41.4 million in January 2019.
The PSA said this was mainly due to the 1.7 million employment loss in the agriculture sector which overshadowed the combined 1.3 million additional employment in the industry and services sectors.
Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said implementing well-thought-out and sustainable policies would improve the overall employment growth in the country.
“The prevalence of low-productivity jobs in the agriculture sector remains a challenge. Sustainable solutions such as shifting rice farmers to high-value crops, promoting crop diversification, accelerating development of local infrastructure, and training for farmers on technological advances are critical to raising productivity in agriculture,” Pernia said.
The continued decline in agricultural employment is also largely attributed to the rising cost of inputs amid low profit, limited access to credit, poor infrastructure and vulnerability to environmental risks.
“The government must implement concrete and urgent interventions following the enactment of Republic Act 11203, or the Rice Industry Modernization Act, particularly for those stakeholders that will be displaced,” he said.
Underemployment rate―the proportion of those who are already employed but still wanting more work―dropped to 15.6 percent in January 2019 from 18 percent a year earlier. This was the lowest underemployment rate recorded for all surveys conducted in the January rounds since 2009.
“The overall improvements in the proportion of remunerative work, and full-time employment, as well as the decline in underemployment and vulnerable employment, indicate that the quality of work in the country is continuously progressing,” Pernia said.
Pernia said that to further improve labor market outcomes and meet the Philippine Development Plan employment targets, the government should remain committed to providing policies and programs that are conducive to creating more and better employment.
These include reducing the cost of doing business and easing foreign investment restrictions, he said.
The Labor Force Survey is a nationwide quarterly survey of households to gather data on the demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of the population and provide statistics on trends of employment, unemployment and underemployment in the country.