Unemployment rate falls to 5.2% in July

CHEFS undergo culinary training for newly hired crew members March 25 at the Magsaysay Center for Hospitality and Culinary Arts in Manila. – PHILIPPINE STAR/ KRIZ JOHN ROSALES

The PHILIPPINES unemployment rate fell in July to its lowest level since the start of the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Preliminary data from the Philippines Statistics Agency (PSA) showed that the unemployment rate — or the proportion of unemployed Filipinos in the total labor force — fell to 5.2% in July, down from 6% in June and 7.2% in July last year improved.

This was the lowest unemployment rate since the PSA began reporting monthly labor force surveys in 2021.

Situation of the Filipino Workers

Including quarterly surveys, the unemployment rate was the lowest in July, from 4.5% in October 2019.

In July, the number of unemployed Filipinos reached 2.602 million, down 388,000 from June. It was also down 627,000 from last year’s level of 3.229 million.

“We expect more jobs and income opportunities for Filipinos in the coming months as we move towards the full reopening of the economy,” Arsenio M. Balisacan, Minister of Socio-Economic Planning, said in a statement.

Mr Balisacan said this will help mitigate the impact of inbottlePressure on consumer purchasing power.

“I really think it’s the reopening of the economy that has helped the unemployment rate come down from the previous month. According to the PSA, we still have about 600,000 more jobs to get back to pre-pandemic levels,” Ruben Carlo O. Asuncion, chief economist at UnionBank of the Philippines, Inc., said in an email.

Among regions, the July unemployment rate was highest in the National Capital Region at 6.9%, while the Cagayan Valley was lowest at 2.8%.

Meanwhile, job quality deteriorated as the underemployment rate rose to 13.8% in July from 12.6% in June. However, this was still lower than the underemployment rate of 21% in July last year.

This was the highest underemployment rate in two months or since May at 14.5%.

In absolute terms, the number of Filipinos already working but still looking for more work or longer hours compared to the total labor force increased by 655,000 month-on-month to 6.543 million in July. However, this was down 2.226 million from the 8.769 million underemployed Filipinos recorded in July last year.

The number of employed persons was estimated at 49.994 million in July, up 412,000 from 49.581 million in June. This brought the labor force participation rate (LFPR) to 65.2% of the country’s working-age population in July, up from 64.8% in the previous month.

The number of new entrants to the labor market reached 1.289 million in July, up from the 980,619 recorded in June.

The employment rate reached 94.8% in July compared to 94.0% in June. This equates to 47.391 million Filipinos employed this month from 46.592 million previously.

The service sector remained the largest source of jobs in July after posting an employment rate of 58.8%, up from 56.5% in June.

However, the employment rate in agriculture and industry fell in July to 23.5% (from 24.5% in June) and 17.7% (from 19%) respectively.

‘DISTURBING’
Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa and Progresibong Manggagawa Secretary-Gen. Joshua T. Mata said the quality of jobs being created in the country was “of concern.”

“What we are seeing are more part-time jobs than full-time jobs […] At the same time, the decline in jobs in critical sectors such as education and health is also a major concern. Finally, we are in the midst of an education crisis, even though we have not yet fully ended the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic,” Mr. Mata said in a Viber message.

“The continued loss of manufacturing jobs means we are missing out on high value-added jobs. Obviously, our industrial development is still poor aonwardsected by global supply chain problems. Paired with high inbottlenation rates, these trends bode ill for workers,” he added.

Several sub-sectors recorded monthly job losses in agriculture and forestry (down 263k to 9.730m in July), construction (down 200k to 4.523m), manufacturing (down 152k to 3.494m), mining and quarries (down 145k ). to 192,711) and education (down 108,000 to 1.389 million).

On the other hand, increases were recorded in wholesale and retail trade (up 941,000 month-on-month to 10.665 million in July), hospitality (up 227,000 to 1.902 million) and public administration and defense (up 122,000). to 2.886 million).

National statistician Claire Dennis S. Mapa said at the press conference that the quarter-on-quarter decline in manufacturing jobs was mainly due to semiconductor equipment and other electronic components, finished embroidered garments and baked goods.

“Comparing April and July 2022, we see that the production of baked goods has declined in employment in recent months. And one possible reason is input costs,” said Mr. Mapa.

In the seven months to July, the unemployment rate averaged 5.9%, down from 8% in the same period last year.

The underemployment rate also improved, averaging 14.2% in the seven months to July from 16.4% a year ago.

The employment rate was 94.1% in the January-July period, up from 92% a year earlier, while the LFPR rose slightly from 63% to 63.9% over the same period.

On average, a employed Filipino worked 40.5 hours a week in July, up slightly from the previous month’s 40.3 hours but down from the 41.7 hours in July last year.

INFLATION EFFECTS
Analysts noted that the rise in the underemployment rate signals workers are looking for better or more jobs while trying to cope with rising prices.

“Higher gas prices make it harder for people to get around, so people would probably prefer to work from home, which is mostly an option with part-time jobs,” Ser Percival K., associate director of the Ateneo de Manila University Center for Economic Research and Development, Peña-Reyes said in a Viber call.

“And now we are witnessing a surge in inflation. And reporting to work means mobility costs,” he added.

Headline inflation for July rose to a 45-month high of 6.4% annually as food and transport prices soared. It was faster than June’s 6.1% and last year’s 3.7%.

The transport index, which accounts for almost a tenth of the consumer’s total shopping basket, rose to 18.1% in July from 17.1% in June on higher public utility tariffs.

The vice president of the Philippines Congress of Unions (TUCP), Luis C. Corral, urged business executives “not to do things as usual.”

“Around the world, many economies are in freefall or recession. And in our export markets, for example, many orders are being cancelled. In addition, the international export market is weakening. And this softening will have a major impact on the Philippines. You must act with a sense of urgency and speed. Our economic managers also say our economy hasn’t been dramatically affected by the dollar, but I don’t think so. That’s why we’re pushing for the creation of more quality jobs,” Mr. Corral said in a Viber call.

On Thursday, the peso fell to a new record low against the US dollar for the fifth straight day. The local unit lost 4.5 centavos finish at 57.18 pesos to the dollar, data from the Bankers Association of the Philippines showed.

Mr. Peña-Reyes said the peso devaluation, food shortages and the impact of aggressive US Federal Reserve policy tightening are key factors affecting aonwardschange the labor market in the coming months.

“Domestically, we face rising rates of inflation and monetary policy, and the national government needs to be in a position to respond well to economic challenges and prepare the economy for a more robust economic recovery from the pandemic,” Mr Asuncion said. — Ana Olivia A.Tirona

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