The quality of jobs for Filipinos continues to improve as the country’s underemployment rate decreased to 10.7 percent in September 2023, the lowest figure ever recorded since earliest available data starting April 2005.
The latest underemployment figure is significantly lower than the pre-pandemic level at 14.8 percent and the 15.4 percent recorded in September 2022 as well as the 11.7 percent in August 2023.
This development is supported by the significant contribution of the more remunerative class of work to employment generation, as the number of wage and salary workers increased by 1.3 million year-on-year, particularly coming from private establishments.
Meanwhile, the unemployment rate improved to 4.5 percent in September 2023 from 5.0 percent in the same month last year but slightly inched up from 4.4 percent in August 2023.
Year-to-date (YTD), the unemployment rate averaged at 4.6 percent.
“President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.’s ultimate goal is to bring down unemployment to 4 to 5 percent in 2028. Right now, the year-to-date unemployment rate is at 4.6 percent, way below the 5.3 to 6.4 percent target for 2023,” Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno said.
Employment rate for September 2023 stood at 95.5 percent, higher than the 95.0 percent posted in the same period last year but slightly lower than the 95.6 percent recorded in August 2023.
The labor force participation rate (LFPR) was recorded at 64.1 percent in September 2023, slightly lower than LFPRs of 65.2 percent and 64.7 percent for September 2022 and August 2023, respectively.
The services sector continued to take the top spot in terms of employment with a share of 60.4 percent in September 2023. This was followed by Agriculture (21.5 percent) and Industry (18.1 percent).
In terms of sub-sectors, the following recorded annual increases in the number of employed persons: accommodation and food service activities (608,000); administrative and support service activities (535,000); construction (481,000); transportation and storage (255,000); and fishing and aquaculture (193,000).
However, employment losses versus the prior year were experienced in manufacturing (-888,000), wholesale and retail trade (-722,000), and agriculture and forestry (-649,000).
The manufacturing sector experienced a decline in new orders from abroad for the first time in nine months.
Moreover, the decline in agriculture and forestry employment stemmed from recent weather disturbances, which disrupted various economic activities in the agricultural sector. This partly drove the decrease in employment opportunities.
In terms of youth unemployment, the rate increased to 13.1 percent in September 2023, from 11.5 percent in the same period last year and 12.2 percent in August 2023.
Nevertheless, the youth underemployment rate considerably improved to 9.1 percent from 12.1 percent in the same period last year and 9.7 percent in August 2023. This was also an improvement from 12.5 percent during the pre-pandemic period.
Youth LFPR decreased to 33.1 percent from 36.7 percent a year ago and 34.9 percent in the previous month due to the return to schooling of most youth learners.
“The Philippine economy continues to maintain generally good labor and employment conditions as most of the major indicators improved relative to the same period a year ago,” Finance Secretary Diokno said.
“The government will further intensify its measures to help improve the economic environment, particularly with the lower labor force participation rate and higher youth unemployment rate,” he added.
The national government is working with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to help arrest inflation, which is crucial in maintaining macroeconomic stability.
Moreover, the government is continuously promoting investments to create more jobs by aggressively implementing existing structural reforms and supporting reforms needed to help improve the investment environment.
Such efforts will be complemented by the continuous implementation of the Medium-Term Fiscal Framework (MTFF) and sound policies to help maintain market confidence amid high uncertainties.
The government is also boosting its proactive responses to external developments to minimize the adverse effects of external shocks on the domestic economy.
Catch-up plans are currently being implemented to accelerate government spending in the remaining months of the year––particularly on infrastructure development, which has high multiplier effects.
“Intensifying the implementation of necessary programs and measures to help upgrade the knowledge and skills of our workforce, particularly the youth, is imperative to improve Filipino labor productivity, competitiveness, and employability,” Secretary Diokno said. (DOF)