Philippine economy

Jobs to come back in 2021, but millions will remain poor

Ralf Rivas
The Philippines' economic team sees the coronavirus pandemic's impact lingering until 2021, spoiling poverty alleviation prospects

The Philippine government is expecting jobs to come back in 2021, but also admits that millions of Filipinos who have slipped into poverty due to the coronavirus pandemic will remain poor next year.

Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Chua told senators on Thursday, September 10, that unemployment will likely go down to between 6% and 8% in 2021. 

This figure is better than the 10% or 4.6 million jobless individuals recorded last July and the all-time high of 17.7% or 7.3 million people recorded last April. 

However, the latest forecast is still much higher than the 5.3% unemployment rate before the pandemic. This means that some 2 million people will likely remain poor next year.

Unemployment was only at 5.3% in January 2020, or 2.4 million people, and 5.1% in April 2019, or 2.3 million people.

While employment is expected to recover, poverty incidence could worsen next year. (READ: [ANALYSIS] On poverty lines and counting the poor)

Chua said the poverty rate will range from 15.5% to 17.5% in 2021 from the 16.6% in 2018. The projected range is higher than the economic team’s target of bringing poverty down to 14%.

The Philippine government had aimed to lift 6 million Filipinos out of poverty by 2022. It said 5.9 million people were already lifted out of poverty as of 2018, but with the pandemic ravaging the economy in 2020, the situation has now changed.

The Philippine government measures poverty every 3 years.

Chua also said that people living in urban areas, particularly Metro Manila, will be the most affected.

Before the pandemic, the Philippines was poised to be ranked as an upper-middle income country in 2020. –

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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.