Labor market remains resilient as unemployment declines further to 4.4% in August – Diokno

The country’s labor market is seeing sustained improvements as unemployment lowers to 4.4 percent in August 2023 from 5.3 percent in the same month last year and the 4.8 percent in July 2023.

This brings the year-to-date (YTD) unemployment rate to 4.6 percent, which is way below the 5.3 to 6.4 percent target for 2023 as indicated in the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2023-2028.

“The Philippines’ August jobs data shows that the labor market has remained strong and resilient amid an uncertain global environment,” Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno said following the release of the August 2023 Labor Force Survey (LFS).

The Philippines’ higher employment rate of 95.6 percent is better than the 94.7 percent and 95.2 percent recorded in August 2022 and July 2023, respectively.

The quality of employment continues to improve as the number of underemployed persons was recorded at 5.63 million or 11.7 percent of the total labor force. This is lower than the 14.7 percent and 15.9 percent recorded underemployment rates in August 2022 and July 2023, respectively.

Relative to August 2022, most of the increase in employment was also from the more remunerative wage and salary employment, particularly from private establishments, followed by employment in own family-operated farm or business.

The labor force participation rate (LFPR) saw a slight decrease to 64.7 percent, lower than the 66.1 percent in August 2022 but higher than the 60.1 percent in July 2023.

By major sectors, Services had the largest share of 57.3 percent in employment. This was followed by Agriculture at 24.5 percent and Industry at 18.2 percent.

The increase in employment year-on-year (YOY) was mainly due to employment in Fishing and aquaculture (generated 572 thousand employment), Construction (534 thousand), and Agriculture (378 thousand).

Meanwhile, relative to the previous month, the 3.4 million employment generated mainly came from Agriculture (1.97 million), Wholesale and retail trade (1.1 million), and Construction (286 thousand).

Aside from the base effect, the significant employment generated in Agriculture was partly due to the peak of rice planting and the start of corn harvesting during the period. The strong construction employment appears to reflect the intensified infrastructure activities as the government catches up in spending to help create more economic activities.

By worker classification, wage and salary workers, mainly those working in private establishments, had the highest share of 49.2 percent in employment. This was followed by the self-employed without any paid employees at 27.3 percent.

The youth jobs market has improved, too. Youth underemployment rate dropped to 9.7 percent from 12.5 percent in August 2022 and 14.8 percent in July 2023.

“We are making significant strides in our reform agenda, such as the recently approved PPP Code and Trabaho Para Sa Bayan Act. Once enacted, the PPP Code will further improve our country’s investment environment and open up more employment opportunities for Filipinos. On the other hand, the recently signed Trabaho Para Sa Bayan Act will improve employability through upskilling and reskilling activities,” Secretary Diokno said.

Amid inflationary pressures, the Philippine economy managed to improve its labor and employment conditions as all major indicators improved relative to the previous month.

The government will continue to promote investments that will generate more jobs by ensuring the timely and proper implementation of existing structural reforms while supporting the passage of legislative measures that will help address the existing bottlenecks.

Catch up plans to accelerate government spending in the second half of the year will also be pursued in order to bring about infrastructure development that has high multiplier effects.

Proactive responses to external developments are also being implemented to minimize the adverse effects of external shocks on the domestic economy.

“We must ramp up our investments in and retrain our policy focus on human capital development to equip the country’s workforce with the right skills, tools, and environment they need to thrive in the 21st century economy,” Secretary Diokno said.