Jobless rate fell to 5.3% in January
The Philippine Statistics Authority’s January 2018 Labor Force Survey showed that the unemployment rate at the start of the year went down from 6.6 percent during the same month last year.
The unemployment rate in January fell within the 4.7-5.3 percent target for 2018 under the 2017-2022 Philippine Development Plan (PDP), the Duterte administration’s medium-term socioeconomic blueprint, the state-planning agency National Economic and Development Authority said.
Neda said the employment rate of 94.7 percent was the highest among the January rounds of the quarterly survey since 2009.
PSA data showed that 41.8 million Filipinos were employed in January, up from 39.3 million in the same month last year.
The number of unemployed, meanwhile, declined to 2.3 million from last year’s 2.8 million.
The labor force, comprised of those 15 years old and above, also grew to 70.9 million from a year ago’s 69.4 million.
The number of jobless declined even as the labor force participation rate rose to 62.2 percent from 60.7 percent a year ago.
“Considering that the labor force participation rate went up while unemployment went down mean that things are turning well. In fact, it’s only January; by around March or April, the rollout of infrastructure projects will be already full blast, so we expect unemployment to further go down,” Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno told reporters.
However, the underemployment rate inched up to 18 percent (7.4 million people) in January from 16.3 percent (6.4 million) last year. The PSA defines the underemployed as “employed persons who express the desire to have additional hours of work in their present job, or to have additional job, or to have a new job with longer working hours.”
Diokno said that rising inflation would not impact on job generation.
“They [companies] will continue to produce—actually, firms are feeling their way through if they will adjust prices or not because in a competitive environment, it’s difficult to adjust prices on your own. Maybe in the first two quarters there will be high inflation in response to the TRAIN [Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion] law,” Diokno said.
Signed by President Duterte in December, the TRAIN law starting Jan. 1 this year jacked up or slapped new excise taxes on oil, cigarettes, sugary drinks and vehicles, among other goods, to compensate for the restructured personal income tax regime that raised the tax-exempt cap to an annual salary of P250,000.
Last Tuesday, the government reported that headline inflation in February hit 3.9 percent using 2012 as the new base year, the fastest rate of increase in prices of basic goods since August 2014’s 4.2 percent. With the old consumer price index (CPI) series based on 2006 prices, inflation was 4.5 percent.
Neda noted that labor force participation rate among women rose to 47.5 percent in January from 45.2 percent a year ago.
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