Unemployment rate eased to 5.3 percent in August from 8.1 percent a year ago as the number of jobs in the country went up by 3.6 million, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed Thursday.
The National Economic and Development Authority said the ranks of the unemployed also went down by over a million to 2.7 million in August from 3.9 million in the same month last year even as the labor force expanded in line with the growth of the population.
“We are now reaping the gains of the safe and gradual full reopening of the economy. However, we must not rest on our laurels—we must harness the benefits of our key economic liberalization laws such as the Public Service Act, Foreign Investments Act, and Retail Trade Liberalization Act. These reforms would attract high-value and innovation-driven investments which, in turn, could generate more and quality employment,” NEDA Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said.
The underemployment rate remained at 14.7 percent, referring to employed individuals seeking additional hours of work.
Meanwhile, the labor force participation rate picked up to 66.1 percent in August from 63.6 percent a year earlier. This was the highest recorded rate since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and translated into 2.4 million more Filipinos in the labor force relative to the previous year.
Total employment reached 47.9 million in August or 3.6 million additional jobs year-on-year on account of stronger growth in the services sector, specifically in the wholesale and retail trade, accommodation and food services that benefitted from the continuous easing of mobility restrictions and resumption of face-to-face classes.
The agriculture sector, which accounted for 22.6 percent of total employment, shed around 265,000 jobs over the past 12 months on high fuel and fertilizer prices, African swine fever, bird flu and weather disturbances.
“We need to make sure that we are effectively implementing our disaster risk management measures, including social protection programs for communities affected by the recent calamities. Leveraging technology will improve preventive and responsive measures and mitigate possible labor market downturns in times of disasters,” Balisacan said.
Balisacan cited the strategies for a more efficient labor market that would be outlined in the upcoming Philippine Development Plan 2023-2028, which would include improving the quality of education, providing opportunities for life-long learning, in-demand skills development, options to obtain micro-credentials, enhancing job facilitation programs and strengthening linkages among industries, businesses and training institutions.
“We must further strengthen our policy interventions so we can generate more jobs, green jobs, and high-quality jobs that provide adequate income for Filipino workers and to attain significant poverty reduction. These are necessary steps towards achieving economic transformation,” the NEDA chief said.