PH sustains strong recovery, upbeat labor market – NEDA

The Philippines continues to sustain an upbeat labor market, leading towards a strong economic recovery from the impact of COVID-19 pandemic, said the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

The Philippine Statistics Authority reported today that the country’s unemployment rate dropped to 4.5 percent in October 2022 from 7.4 percent during the same period last year. This is the lowest unemployment rate recorded for all October rounds since 2019.  Correspondingly, employment rate increased to 95.5 percent, the highest record since the start of the pandemic. This translates to an employment level of 47.1 million in October 2022, 3.3 million higher than in the same period last year.

“The country’s sustained recovery of the labor market backs our confidence that our policies and interventions to reinvigorate our economy are working,” NEDA Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan said.

The labor force participation rate accelerated further to 64.2 percent in October 2022 from 62.6 percent in October 2021, translating to an additional two million individuals entering the work force.

“Our move to finally open face-to-face classes at full capacity has paved the way for us to immediately address the learning losses from the pandemic—this is a precursor to a workforce that demonstrates competence and high productivity. Also, with children back in school, parents-at-home—especially mothers—are also able to pursue more income opportunities,” Balisacan said.

The majority of the increase in employment came from the services and industry sectors.  Meanwhile, the agriculture sector posted employment loss, particularly in agriculture and forestry as a result of the tropical cyclones that entered the country in October 2022. However, this contraction in the sector was slightly moderated by fishing and aquaculture, which recorded 34,000 additional employment during the period.

On the other hand, the underemployment rate fell to 14.2 percent from 16.1 percent in October 2021, or 371,000 fewer underemployed persons. Nevertheless, the number of invisibly underemployed continues to increase as more seek to earn additional income amid the persistent rise in commodity prices.

“While the employment numbers have improved, we recognize that we need to expand efforts towards creating more and high quality employment by improving workforce employability. We need to do this if we really want to pursue economic transformation,” Balisacan said.

For one, the NEDA chief affirmed the government’s commitment to boosting the country’s disaster resilience as the La Niña season is expected to persist until March 2023. These include the effective implementation of emergency employment programs to minimize employment losses, leveraging technology that will improve knowledge-sharing, and establishing preventive and responsive measures for disaster risk reduction and management across the country.

Recognizing the private sector as the country’s engine for growth, Balisacan likewise urged for more public-private partnerships to expand skills development and opportunities in the country.

“Accelerating economic recovery requires a whole-of-nation approach; on the government’s part, this entails enabling a vibrant economy—sound macroeconomic fundamentals, a level playing field and ease in doing business transactions and service delivery—so it would be easier for the private sector to participate.  Accordingly, we hope that the citizens will be more aggressive in improving their skills as well as maintain good health by continuously following the COVID-19 minimum health protocols and getting fully-vaccinated,” he said.

“More than reducing the total unemployment, our goal is to ensure that the strategies of the Philippine Development Plan for 2023-2028 will be fully implemented to generate more jobs, green jobs, and high quality jobs that will provide Filipinos sufficient income for their needs, and eventually live the matatag, maginhawa, at panatag na buhay that we all aspire,” Balisacan added.