Philippine labor

IN CHARTS: State of job quality, wages in the Philippines

Ralf Rivas

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IN CHARTS: State of job quality, wages in the Philippines

LABOR DAY. Workers from various labor organizations march along España Boulevard in Manila to mark International Labor Day on May 1, 2023.


College graduates with jobs are looking for more work to make ends meet, while some 4.8 million Filipinos are working without pay

MANILA, Philippines – There are more Filipinos who have jobs now than before the pandemic. But a closer look at the data shows that the available jobs are of low quality.

For instance, based on data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), college graduates and those who have at least enrolled in some college courses comprise 38.6% of the underemployed. Junior high school graduates, as well as those who have reached but not completed junior high school, comprise 34% of the underemployed.

Underemployment occurs when people are not working full-time, have full-time work but are looking for more hours to make ends meet, or have skills that do not match their current jobs.

In terms of age group, the millennials or the 25-34 age group reported the highest underemployment, comprising 35.2% of the total underemployed in the country.

The 15-24 age group make up 33% of the total underemployed persons.

In terms of occupation type, those whose jobs are classified as elementary occupations comprise 29.1% of the total labor force.

Tasks performed by workers in elementary occupations usually include cleaning, performing basic maintenance in households, washing cars and windows, and simple tasks in food preparation. Those who deliver messages or goods, carry luggage, and sweep streets are also in this category.

The PSA earlier reported that some 3.3 million jobs were added in the 12 months to February 2023, bringing the total number of employed Filipinos to 48.8 million. The unemployment rate decreased from 6.4% in February 2022 to 4.8% in February 2023.

However, data from the PSA also showed that almost 1.4 million or 41% of these new jobs are those held by people who reported that they have work in family businesses but are unpaid. There are currently 4.8 million “unpaid workers.”

The PSA defines an unpaid family worker as someone who works without pay on one’s own family-operated farm or business by another member living in the same household. The room and board and any cash allowance given as incentives are not counted as compensation for these family workers.

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Aside from the quality of jobs, Filipinos are also challenged by rising prices of goods.

Inflation is unlikely to fall within the government’s desired target range of 2% to 4% in 2023. It is expected to hit between 5% and 7% in 2023, given the persisting high prices of food, energy, and transport costs.

The chart below shows how minimum wage earners are affected by inflation. The darker the color, the harder the impact.

Metro Manila’s nominal minimum wage is at P570. But the daily wage “feels” like it’s just P500.44, as inflation shaves off P69.56 from it.


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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.