The Philippines’ unemployment rate went up to 8.1% in August, equivalent to 3.88 million jobless Filipinos, as the country reverted to another round of lockdowns due to surging COVID-19 cases.
The latest figure reported by the Philippine Statistics Authority on Thursday, September 30, is much higher than the 6.9% reported for July, which was equivalent to 3.07 million jobless Filipinos.
The number of Filipinos either working or actively looking for work also increased, pushing the labor force participation rate to 63.6% in August from 59.8% in July.
In August, Metro Manila and other key areas were placed under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to minimize the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19.
Meanwhile, the underemployment rate or the percentage of the working population looking for more work went down to 14.7% in August from 20.9% in July.
A total of 44.23 million Filipinos had work in August, for an employment rate of 91.9%. In terms of percentage, this is lower than July’s 93.1%, but the number of those employed is higher than July’s 41.67 million.
Agriculture posted the biggest increase in employment at 1.78 million, followed by wholesale and retail trade (992,000) and manufacturing (169,000).
The education sector posted the sharpest drop at 238,000, followed by administrative and support services (110,000) and construction (85,000).
Despite the increase in the unemployment rate, the government’s economic managers said the latest figures show improvements in the labor market.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Chua, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, and Budget and Management Officer-in-Charge Tina Canda said in a joint statement that the jump in the number of jobless Filipinos was “expected, given the stricter quarantine imposed to curb the spread of the Delta variant.”
“On the other hand, the labor force participation increased to 63.6% from 59.8% as more people rejoined the labor force. While this is one factor for the increase in the unemployment rate, more people were able to find work, leading to an increase in the number of employed by 2.6 million in August compared to July,” they said.
The economic managers also said that they expect jobs in education to gradually improve following President Rodrigo Duterte’s approval to begin face-to-face classes in low-risk areas.
Chua earlier said the economy would lose at least P105 billion for every week of ECQ, along with 444,000 jobs for the duration of the lockdown in August.
The National Economic and Development Authority also estimated that the total cost of the coronavirus pandemic’s impact for the next 40 years would be P41.4 trillion.
As of Wednesday, September 29, the Philippines’ total COVID-19 cases stood at over 2.5 million, with 132,339 of these considered active cases. – Rappler.com