The unemployment rate in the country is directly tied to the level of lockdown rules imposed by authorities. The more rigid the rules are, the more unemployed we have in our midst.
The low unemployment rate of 6.9 percent recorded in July is not surprising. The rate joblessness fell to its 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 country’s economic managers attributed the higher employment rate in July to more relaxed quarantine rules that eased mobility restrictions and reopened many business establishments, including malls, fast-food restaurants, and small retail outlets.
The improved July employment rate came after the economy gained momentum in the second quarter when it expanded 11.8 percent. The economic recovery was gathering pace and the July employment rate confirmed the growth trajectory.
The July labor data shows that only 3.1 million Filipinos 15 years old and over were without jobs in July, lower by 1.5 million from 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 employment rate in July, thus, was at 93.1 percent of the total labor force, or the highest level since the pandemic heightened in April 2020. But the labor situation in August could abruptly change and worsen. The government placed Metro Manila, the center of economic activities, and some provinces in Luzon under enhanced community quarantine, the strictest lockdown level, from August 6 to 20. Some restrictions were loosened after August 20 but restaurants and personal care services remain shut down.
The ECQ and the subsequent modified lockdown levels continue to deprive many workers of their jobs. Thousands of fast-food workers and those manning salons and retail outlets inside the malls are unable to join the labor force since August 6. The lockdown rules have stalled the momentum of economic recovery and, for sure, reduced the employment level in August. The economy clearly slumped in August after the strict lockdown rules took their toll on the labor sector.