Philippines: Jobless rate up slightly

UNEMPLOYMENT picked up in December from a month earlier but job quality appears to have improved, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed.

The jobless rate rose to 4.3 percent from 4.2 percent in November, the PSA reported on Wednesday, with 43,000 Filipinos ages 15 and above joining the ranks of the unemployed. At 2.22 million, the total number of those without work rose from 2.18 million in November.

Underemployment, however, improved to 12.6 percent from November’s 14.4 percent. The number of employed persons looking for more work fell to 6.2 million from 7.16 million a month earlier.

The National Economic and Development Authority welcomed results of the PSA’s December 2022 Labor Force Survey, saying that the labor market had continued to gain “as more Filipinos pursue and attain high-quality jobs amid the now fully opened economy.”

“The government remains committed to providing more, better and green job opportunities to Filipinos and sustaining a vibrant labor market through the strategies articulated in the Philippine Development Plan 2023-2028,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said in a statement.

Average hours worked per week, meanwhile, rose to 40.3 in December from 39.3 in November.

The services sector continued to account for the bulk of employment, covering 58.9 percent of all employed persons. Agriculture and industry took shares of 24.0 percent and 17.1 percent, respectively.

By sub-sector, agriculture and forestry added the most jobs — 829,000 — in December, followed by fishing and aquaculture (291,000), and administrative and support services (257,000).

Manufacturing, on the other hand, shed the most jobs (585,000) with wholesale and retail trade, repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles following (387,000). In third was accommodation and food services (240,000).

Wage and salary workers accounted for the bulk of the employed at 61.6 percent, followed by the self-employed (27.7 percent), unpaid family workers (8.7 percent) and those employed in family-owned businesses (2.0 percent).

“We are steadfast in pursuing this year’s growth target amid global and domestic risks to ensure that jobs are preserved and new employment is generated,” Balisacan said.

“Generating more high-quality jobs in the agriculture sector and ensuring food security for Filipinos remain part of our top priorities,” he added.

Balisacan pointed to the need to improve worker skills to increase their income-earning capabilities.

“Along with offering high-quality jobs, we must ensure that their skills are not just aligned with current in-demand requirements but can also continuously keep up with the demands of evolving and emerging jobs,” he said.

“Crucial to achieving social and economic transformation is the ‘transformation of talent’ that would create an agile labor force and sustain labor market gains.”