National Economic and Development Administration (NEDA) Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said the country’s unemployment rate will go down to pre-pandemic levels by 2024.
“We are making sure there will be more stimulus for job creation in the next quarter. More economic activities, particularly among small and medium enterprises,” Balisacan said during the Senate Finance committee’s first briefing on the national expenditure program based on next year’s P5.628-trillion national budget.
Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva earlier asked Balisacan about the country’s employment projections, citing the 5.3 percent actual unemployment rate in 2018 and 5.1 percent in 2019.
The figure rose to 10.3 percent in 2020, and then dropped to 7.8 percent in 2021, Villanueva said.
The Development Budget Coordination Committee’s (DBCC) data indicated the projected unemployment rate at 5.1 percent to 6.5 percent in 2022; 5.7 percent to 6.8 percent in 2023; 5 percent to 5.3 percent in 2024; and 5.5 percent to 5.8 percent in 2025.
“We have made an exercise on that. Here, for 2023, we are expecting unemployment to reach 5.7 to 6.8 (percent). By 2024, 5.0 to 5.3 (percent),” Balisacan said.
Villanueva asked Balisacan if the government sees the unemployment rate going back to the pre-pandemic level by 2024, to which the NEDA chief answered in the affirmative.
For 2023, Balisacan said they expect more Filipinos, particularly those who will finish the K to 12 program, to join the labor force.
“Next year, we don’t expect a sharp decline in unemployment, but still the number of additional jobs created would be quite significant especially if we continue the progress in opening up the economy,” he said.
Balisacan said an example of opening up the economy is the optional wearing of face masks outdoors, adding that he expects the policy will include indoor spaces provided that sufficient health protocols are in place.
“With those, I think that will spur more developments, more economic activities particularly among small and medium enterprises. So I’m quite upbeat that insofar as the employment situation is concerned for the near term that there will be quite significant improvement even given the inflation and the uptick in the interest rates,” Balisacan said.