The unemployment rate fell to 5.7 percent in April, the lowest since the start of the pandemic, as the economy continued to reopen and recovered from the impact of the global health crisis, the Philippine Statistics Authority said Friday.
Data showed the jobless rate eased from 5.8 percent in March and 8.7 percent in April 2021. The PSA said the total number of unemployed in terms of magnitude reached 2.76 million in April, lower by 1.38 million from a year ago.
The PSA said the employment rate in April climbed to 94.3 percent, translating into about 45.63 million employed Filipinos. This was higher than 91.3 percent in April 2021, which represented a year-on-year increase of about 2.36 million from 43.27 million.
On a monthly basis however, fewer Filipinos participated in the labor force in April because of the supply chain disruptions brought about by the Russia-Ukraine conflict and seasonal factors in agriculture.
The labor force participation rate declined from 65.4 percent in March to 63.4 percent, translating into a net employment loss of 1.3 million between the two months. The PSA said of the 1.3 million net employment loss, 1.1 million were from agriculture while 500,000 were from services. The industry sector added 300,000 jobs.
Economic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua said targeted subsidies and the full resumption of face-to-face schooling would help bring back employment in the hardest-hit sectors.
“Higher oil prices and seasonal factors have impacted workers in the transport and agriculture sectors, respectively, and hindered some from going to work. To address this, the government will urgently distribute targeted subsidies to the hardest-hit sectors to cushion higher prices,” Chua said.
The government is rolling out targeted subsidies amounting to P6.1 billion for the transport and agriculture sectors. These include P5 billion worth of fuel vouchers to qualified public utility vehicle drivers and operators who will each receive P6,500 fuel subsidy under the Pantawid Pasada program. The government will also distribute P1.1 billion as fuel discounts to farmers and fisherfolk.
The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board approved one-peso provisional fare increase for public utility jeepneys in the National Capital Region, Region 3 and Region 4A to address increasing fuel prices.
Chua said the Civil Service Commission allowed government offices to adopt flexible work arrangements such as four-day work weeks to help employees save on fuel costs.
The National Economic and Development Authority said that despite the external risks, overall employment remained at 3.1 million above the pre-pandemic level, as around 80 percent of the economy was placed under Alert Level 1.
Chua said the country could only reap the full benefits of Alert Level 1 with the full resumption of face-to-face classes. This is among the strategies cited in Executive Order No. 166, which adopts the Economic Development Cluster’s 10-point-policy agenda to accelerate and sustain economic recovery.
He said that without the full resumption of face-to-face classes, businesses that cater to students remain closed or operate at reduced capacity. One-fourth of parents cannot go to work as they need to support and manage their children’s online schooling, thus limiting the income generation of some households, he said.
“The Philippine economy has recovered to its pre-pandemic gross domestic product level this year. We must now focus on accelerating our growth by strengthening our domestic economy and investing in the education and development of our children. This will help secure better employment opportunities for future generations,” Chua said.