The country’s unemployment rate declined to 6.4 percent in January 2022 from 8.8 percent a year ago, the lowest since the start of the pandemic, as new jobs were created during the month, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) on Friday show.
The January 2022 jobless rate was also lower compared to the 6.6 percent in December 2021.
In its January 2022 Labor Force Survey, the PSA said the 6.4-percent unemployment rate for the month translated to 2.93 million unemployed Filipinos, a decline of 1.04 million from the 3.96 million unemployed reported in January 2021.
“The employment situation in the country for the first month of 2022 has improved from 91.2 percent in January 2021 to 93.6 percent this year. This estimated rate was also higher than employment rate in the previous quarter’s 92.6 percent,” PSA said.
“In terms of magnitude, the number of employed persons increased by 1.77 million from 41.25 million in January 2021 to 43.02 million in January 2022,” it said.
But Economic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua said that while the unemployment rate declined, fewer Filipinos were able to work during the Omicron surge in January 2022.
“Due to the Omicron surge in January, the labor force participation rate fell from 65.1 percent to 60.5 percent. Another reason for lower employment levels is the end of the holiday season which shed off seasonal jobs. Despite this, net employment remains at 0.5 million above the pre-pandemic level,” Chua said.
“The Omicron surge caused a temporary decline in our employment levels. Now that we have contained the spread of the virus and shifted to Alert Level 1 in most parts of the country, we look forward to an improvement in employment outcomes in the coming months,” Chua said.
Since March 15, 2022, 70 percent of the economy has already shifted to Alert Level 1. This means that more restrictions were removed on travel and capacity limits on establishments were eased. Chua said this translates to an additional P10.8 billion per week of economic activity for the country and 195,000 fewer unemployed over the next quarter, compared to Alert Level 2.
Chua also emphasized the need to reopen all schools in Alert Level 1 for face-to-face learning as this will provide a big boost to the economy, enable children to learn more, and allow more parents to go back to work.
PSA data showed that the number of persons 15 years old and over reported as either employed or unemployed was estimated at 45.94 million in January 2022. This was higher compared to the 45.21 million Filipinos in the labor force in the same period last year. In terms of the labor force participation rate (LFPR), this remained the same as the January 2021 rate of 60.5 percent.
On average, employed persons worked for 41.8 hours per week in January 2022. In January 2021, the average hours worked of an employed person was lower at 39.3 hours per week.
Underemployed persons or employed persons who expressed desire to have additional hours of work in their present job or to have an additional job, or to have a new job with longer hours of work was accounted at 6.40 million translating to an underemployment rate of 14.9 percent. This was lower than the 16.0 percent reported in January 2021 but higher than the 14.7 percent reported in December 2021.
The visible underemployment rate or the proportion of underemployed persons working less than 40 hours in a week was reported at 8.9 percent in January 2022. This was lower than the 11.0 percent in the same period last year. This estimated rate was also lower than the October 2021 and December 2021 estimates at 10.7 percent and 9.8 percent, respectively.
On the other hand, invisible underemployment rate or the proportion of underemployed persons working at least 40 hours in a week was estimated at 5.9 percent in January 2022. This was higher than the reported rate in January 2021 (5.0 percent), October 2021 (5.3 percent) and December 2021 (4.9 percent).
By region, CAR registered the highest labor force participation rate at 65.0 percent in January 2022 while BARMM registered the lowest at 55.6 percent. Among the regions, eight posted lower LFPR than the national estimate, namely, BARMM (55.6 percent), Region VIII (58.0 percent), Region V (58.4 percent), Region III (58.6 percent), NCR (58.8 percent), Region XI (59.5 percent), Region VII (60.0 percent), and Region IX (60.0 percent).
The Palace welcomed the drop in the number of unemployed Filipinos.
Acting Presidential spokesman Martin Andanar said the easing of the COVID 19 restrictions helped increase the labor force participation in the country.