Philippine labor

March underemployment rate drops to 11.2%, lowest since April 2005

Lance Spencer Yu

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March underemployment rate drops to 11.2%, lowest since April 2005

BUSINESS HUB. A view of the Makati City skyline on June 2, 2022.

Mau Victa/Rappler

Around 2.42 million out of 51 million Filipinos in the labor force, equivalent to 4.7%, were unemployed in March 2023, better than the 5.8% in the same month last year

MANILA, Philippines – The country is continuing its economic recovery from the pandemic as underemployment fell in March this year to its lowest level since April 2005.

 “This is the lowest since we had the newest series in April 2005. Ito ‘yung pinakamababang (This is the lowest) underemployment rate at 11.2%,” said Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) head Dennis Mapa during a presentation of the March 2023 Labor Force Survey on Monday, May 8.

According to the PSA, underemployed persons refers to “employed persons who express the desire to have additional hours of work in their present job or an additional job, or have a new job with longer working hours.”

In March 2022, 7.42 million Filipinos felt that they were underemployed, translating to 15.8% of all employed persons. A year later, it went down to 5.44 million, or 11.2%. In other words, this is the lowest since April 2005 that employed Filipinos felt that their jobs meet their desired work hours.

Mapa clarified that this drop in underemployment happened mostly among wage and salaried workers and self-employed persons, accounting for around 872,000 and 861,000 persons respectively.

Meanwhile, the employment rate in March stood at 95.3%. For the first quarter of 2023, the average employment rate was 95.2%, better than the 93.8% rate from the same period last year. 

This translates to a 1.6 million increase in employed persons from March 2022 to March 2023, with about 600,000 joining private establishments as wage or salary workers and the rest finding employment under private households. 

Unfortunately, there was also an increase of 424,000 among unpaid family workers. Though classified as “employed,” these laborers work in a family-operated farm or business and are not paid any steady compensation. For March 2023, unpaid family work accounted for 8.9% of total employment, higher than the 8.3% rate in March 2022.

(READ: Philippines mutes rise of unpaid workers, highlights rosy jobs figures)

On the flipside, there were around 2.42 million unemployed Filipinos, or a rate of 4.7%, better than the 5.8% figure last year.

Which industries saw the biggest increase in employment when comparing March 2023 and the same period last year? Transportation and storage came out on top, with 533,000 Filipinos finding jobs in the industry and boosting the number of workers from 3.06 million to 3.59 million. This jump came mostly from chartered rides, taxi operations, airport shuttle services, car and truck rentals, and jeepney, pedicab, and tricycle operations.

Filipinos see food deliveries as part of new normal – Grab report

Filipinos see food deliveries as part of new normal – Grab report

Accommodation and food service activities also hired 447,000 more Filipinos, with employment totals going up from 1.56 million to 2.01 million. With revenge travel reviving food and tourist hotspots, jobs followed mostly in restaurants, fast food restaurants, pizza deliveries, hotels and motels, resorts, condotels, among others.

Revenge travel is here – so where do Filipinos go?

Revenge travel is here – so where do Filipinos go?

Wholesale and retail trade, and repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles also saw 407,000 Filipinos join the industry, mostly in retail selling in groceries, supermarkets, sari-sari stores, and convenience stores. 

Rounding out the top industries was construction, with 384,000 Filipinos finding employment in the industry.

When it comes to workers moving out of industries, agriculture and forestry took the biggest hit. Around 607,000 Filipinos left the industry, causing employment to drop from 10.53 million in March 2022 to 9.92 million in March 2023. Those who exited were mainly involved in growing corn, leafy and fruit-bearing vegetables, and other fruits. 

The PSA noted that this could be related to a drop in the production of crops or a movement of workers between sectors.

Pag drop naman ng ating employee dito, posible naman na nag-migrate sila sa ibang sub-sector kasi nga tumaas ‘yung mga ibang sub-industries natin. Year-on-year, tumaas ‘yung hiring sa private establishments at private households. Ganun naman palagi, ‘yung sa agri sector, nagcro-cross sila doon sa services sector,” Mapa said.

(When employees drop this job, it’s possible that they migrate to another sub-sector, because other sub-industries saw an increase. Year-on-year, the hiring in private establishments and private households went up. That’s how it always is; in the agri sector, they often cross into the services sector.)

Manufacturing also lost 136,000 jobs, mainly from the manufacturing of semiconductors and other electronic components.

Skilled service industries also saw their workforces shrinking as financial and insurance activities shed 156,000 jobs, human health and social work activities dropped 130,000 jobs, and information and communication had a 78,000-person drop in employment.

For the decrease in jobs per industry, the PSA clarified that it could not determine whether the employee was laid off or voluntarily left their position. –

Job quality improves, but unemployment slightly up in December 2022

Job quality improves, but unemployment slightly up in December 2022

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Lance Spencer Yu

Lance Spencer Yu is a multimedia reporter who covers the transportation, tourism, infrastructure, finance, agriculture, and corporate sectors, as well as macroeconomic issues.