Unemployment rate in July fell to 6.9 percent, the lowest since the record-high 17.6 percent registered in April 2020 when the government imposed the strictest quarantine restrictions to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Philippine Statistics Authority said Tuesday.
National Statistician and Civil Registrar General Dennis Mapa said in an online briefing there were 3.1 million unemployed persons 15 years old and over in July 2021, lower by 1.5 million than the 4.6 million reported in July 2020. The July 2021 figure was also lower by 700,000 than the 3.8 million reported in June 2021.
“The country’s employment rate in July 2021 was placed at 93.1 percent. This is the highest employment rate since the pandemic in April 2020. The employment rate in July 2020 was reported at 90.0 percent,” Mapa said.
Employed persons were estimated at 41.7 million as of July, or 3.4 million lower than the estimate in June (45.1 million) and 400,000 more than the estimate for July 2020 at 41.3 million.
Economic managers composed of Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua and Budget Department officer in charge Tina Rose Marie Canda said in a joint statement that the labor force continued to recover, building on the 11.8-percent economic growth in the second quarter.
“The unemployment rate fell to its lowest since the start of the pandemic due to more relaxed quarantines, but risk aversion and precautionary behavior led to a decrease in the labor force participation rate,” they said.
They said the government would continue to strengthen the country’s health capacity, accelerate the vaccination program, and impose more targeted granular lockdowns “to enable more people to safely join the labor force and earn a living.”
The labor force participation rate in July fell to 59.8 percent which is equivalent to 44.7 million Filipinos who were either employed or unemployed. The July 2021 LFPR is the lowest reported rate this year, from 60.5 percent in January 2021 and 63.2 percent in April 2021. The July 2021 LFPR is also lower than the 61.9 percent in July 2020.
Mapa said the drop in labor force participation survey was due to a number of reasons. He said those who were surveyed cited the pandemic, while others said they were “tired of finding a job because they believed there were no available jobs” so they did not join the survey.
Underemployed persons were estimated at 8.7 million in July, or 20.9 percent of the 41.7 million employed individuals during the period. This was the highest underemployment rate since April 2020 at the start of the pandemic.
“Visibly underemployed or those working less than 40 hours in a week but still expressed the desire to have additional hours of work in their present job or to have additional job, or to have a new job with longer working hours was estimated at 4.5 million or 10.8 percent of the total employed persons,” Mapa said.
Invisibly underemployed or those working at least 40 hours in a week but still expressed the desire to have additional hours of work in their present job or to have additional job, or to have a new job with longer working hours, was estimated at 4.2 million or 10 percent of the total employed persons.
Mapa did not downplay the possibility that any gains in the labor sector would be impacted by the lockdowns imposed in August in Metro Manila and other areas.
“It has already happened before that when there are strict lockdowns, the unemployment rate goes up,” Mapa said.
Data showed that the average weekly hours worked by an employed person in July was 41.8 hours in a week. This was the highest mean hours worked in a week by employed persons this year. In July 2020, the average hours worked of employed person in a week was 38.2 hours.
By broad industry group, the services sector continued to account for the largest share of employed persons with 57.9 percent, followed by agriculture sector with 22.1 percent and the industry sector with 20.0 percent.
Employed persons in the industry and services sectors increased by 7.2 percent and 6.6 percent, respectively, from July 2020 to July 2021. Wworkers in the agriculture sector decreased by 15.5 percent over the same period.
The sub-sectors that showed increase in their employment from July 2020 to July 2021 were administrative and support service activities (462,000); construction (411,000); education (223,000); arts, entertainment and recreation (202,000); professional, scientific and technical activities (187,000).