IN CHARTS: Despite slower growth, employment improves in July 2019

Ralf Rivas

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IN CHARTS: Despite slower growth, employment improves in July 2019

Gerard Carreon

Underemployment falls and more young Filipinos enter the workforce in July 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Despite economic growth accelerating slower than expected in 2019, the Philippines’ employment figures remain steady. 

The country’s employment rate remained at 94.6% in July 2019. The unemployment rate was likewise steady at 5.4%.

The employment growth rate increased by 5.7% from 1.2% in July 2018. This translates to 2.3 million additional jobs, almost 5 times the 479,000 jobs generated in the same month last year, according to the National Economic and Development Authority.

The year-to-date unemployment rate is estimated at 5.2%, which is near the upper end of the 4.3% to 5.3% target of the government.

Meanwhile, underemployment – the proportion of those already employed but still want more work – declined to 13.9% from July 2018’s 17.2%. This translates to a reduction of over a million underemployed workers.

With over 73.1 million Filipinos aged 15 and above, the labor force participation rate improved by 2 percentage points to 62.1%. This means that there were jobs available to young Filipinos who reached working age, which was reflected in the steady employment and unemployment rates.

However, it must be noted that while the figures were decent overall, there are still figures that the government must watch out for. These are:

  • Visible underemployment – or people who are involuntarily working less than the normal duration of work – increased by 4.4%.
  • The mean hours of work went down to 41.6 from 43.
  • The youth unemployment rate rose to 14.4% from 14.1%. 
  • Unpaid family workers grew to 6.4% from 4.6%.
  • Wage and salary workers declined to 63.4% from 65.3%.
  • Men continued to dominate the workforce. However, the percentage of female workers slightly improved from 38.9% to 39.4%.

Per sector, services continued to be the one with the most workers at 57.8%. The agriculture and industry sectors comprise 23.5% and 18.7% of the total, respectively.

Five regions registered higher unemployment rates than the national average. These are Calabarzon (7.2%), Mimaropa (7.1%), National Capital Region (6.1%), Central Visayas (6%), and Western Visayas (5.9%).

Of the 17 regions, 14 registered double-digit underemployment rates. Northern Mindanao and Bicol topped the list, both with an underemployment rate of 25.5%. Mimaropa had 22.5%.

“While the Philippine economy has shown remarkable improvements in the labor market, the government should continually improve its efforts towards generating more productive and higher quality employment that provides adequate income for Filipino workers and their families,” Socioeconomic Planning Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon said. – 

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Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.