Unemployment rate increased from 8.1 percent in August to 8.9 percent in September, the highest since the 10 percent recorded in July 2020, following job losses in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors, the Philippine Statistics Authority said Thursday.
National statistician and civil registrar general Dennis Mapa said in an online briefing the 8.9-percent jobless rate in September was also the highest this year, when PSA started to release the labor survey data on a monthly basis. Prior to 2021, PSA was releasing the data on a quarterly basis.
"There was a decline in agriculture employment because of the end of the harvest season and the other factor was the bad weather condition," Mapa said.
The National Economic and Development Authority said while the jobless rate increased in September as the country’s economic centers remained under stringent quarantines and as weather disturbances affected agriculture, the employment prospects remained promising as the country shifted to granular lockdowns.
Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that the labor force participation rate declined from 63.6 percent to 63.3 percent in the same period.
“These results were expected as many parts of the country remained under stringent and blanket quarantines for most of the survey period. In particular, the modified enhanced community quarantine was extended in the National Capital Region up to Sept. 15,” said Economic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua.
The higher unemployment rate, combined with the lower labor force participation rate, led to a net employment loss of 642,000.
The biggest driver of the net employment loss during the period was agriculture, as Typhoon Jolina affected some 30,000 hectares of agricultural land across the regions of Central Luzon, Calabarzon, MIMAROPA, Bicol, Western Visayas, Central Visayas and Eastern Visayas, and contributed to the around 900,000 employment loss in the sector. This decline came after the sector regained 1.9 million employment in August.
Meanwhile, employment increased by 414,000 in the services sector, mostly driven by wholesale and retail trade, tempering the net employment loss in September.
Underemployment also continued to decrease from 14.7 percent in August to 14.2 percent in September, as more people find more productive work.
Chua said that better labor outcomes in October could be expected when the country sees the full impact of the implementation of granular lockdowns in NCR. This strategy has been effective in bringing down cases from its peak in early September, he said.
“Overall, the economy has generated 1.1 million employment above the pre-pandemic level. This signals the Philippines’ continuing recovery. We look forward to the expansion of the alert level and granular lockdown system to the whole country to recover more jobs and livelihoods,” said the NEDA chief.