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PH unemployment at all-time high with 7.3 million jobless in April 2020

Unemployment soared to 17.7% in April 2020, equivalent to around 7.3 million jobless Filipinos amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) announced on Friday, June 5.

National Statistician Dennis Mapa said this is the highest unemployment rate on record.

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.

After January 2020, an additional 4.9 million people became jobless.

The Department of Labor and Employment earlier estimated 5 million jobs would be lost due to the pandemic.

Records began in 1987, with the highest rate for that year at 10.2%. Mapa also said the last double-digit jump in unemployment was in the 2nd quarter of 1991, when it hit 14.4%.

Mapa noted, however, that figures before 2005 are not comparable to the current rate, since the PSA revised the metrics of measuring unemployment in 2005.

All regions hit badly

All regions reported double-digit unemployment rates in April 2020, with the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao suffering the worst at 29.8%. (READ: 'Sariling diskarte': The heavy impact of lockdown on micro, small businesses)

The employment rate fell to 82.3%, from 94.7% in January 2020 and 94.9% in April 2019.

Mapa noted that 38.4% of employed workers reported that they were not working, primarily due to the strict coronavirus lockdown.

Underemployment, or people who have jobs but are looking for more to meet their needs, rose to 18.9% in April from the 13.4% in the same month last year. This represents 6.4 million workers or an additional 781,000 people looking for more jobs.

The labor force participation rate among Filipinos 15 years and older is estimated at 55.6%, the lowest since 1987, when data was first available.

Affected sectors

The arts, entertainment, and recreation sector posted the largest drop in employment, where 54% of workers lost their jobs. From 436,000 in April 2019, there were only 200,000 workers in April 2020.

The electricity, gas, steam, and air-conditioning supply sector recorded a 43.1% drop. From 108,000 workers, only 61,000 were employed in April 2020.

Information and communication (-40.6%), accommodation and food service activities (-35.8%), and construction (-33.8%) also posted drastic drops in employment.

Workers worked 35 hours per week on average in April, lower than the 41.8 in the same period last year. – Rappler.com

Ralf Rivas

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

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