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PH jobless rate in Aug highest in region–Neda

Return to most stringent restrictions swells ranks of unemployed to 3.88M
By: - Reporter / @bendeveraINQ
/ 04:09 AM October 11, 2021

The revert to the strictest lockdown restrictions in August made the Philippines’ unemployment rate the highest among emerging Asian economies, the state planning agency National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) said.

The Philippines’ latest jobless rate, at 8.1 percent last August, topped the six countries in the Neda report issued on Friday.

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India had an unemployment rate of 7.6 percent during the months of July and August; Indonesia, 6.3 percent in February; Malaysia, 4.8 percent in July; China, 3.9 percent in March; and Vietnam, 2.6 percent in June.

The four-month high unemployment rate in August meant 3.88 million Filipinos were without work that month.

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Neda was optimistic, however, that the implementation of granular lockdowns and ramping up of mass vaccination outside Metro Manila, which recently experienced a spike in infections, would help regain jobs shed amid the pandemic.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) this year conducted the labor force survey (LFS) monthly to better monitor the employment situation while quarantine measures gradually eased. Malaysia also monitors jobs monthly; China and Vietnam on a quarterly basis; and Indonesia semi-annually, Neda noted.

Underemployment

Neda said the higher August jobless rate was “expected, given the stricter quarantine imposed to curb the spread of the Delta variant” in Metro Manila and other areas.

But Neda noted that “net job creation was significant and the underemployment rate decreased substantially” in August, “[showing] improvements in the labor market as the government and the people learn to better manage the risks brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“The labor force participation rate recovered to 63.6 percent 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. This brings employment back up to 1.7 million above prepandemic levels,” Neda noted.

The labor force population last August rose from 44.74 million in July as fresh college graduates sought employment.

Assistant National Statistician Wilma Guillen earlier told the Inquirer that while the PSA’s monthly LFS neither collected information on fresh graduates nor new entrants to the labor force, their August data showed that there was an increase among participants belonging to the 15-24 age group.

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“Of the individuals 15-24 years old who were in the labor force in August, about 1.23 million were college graduates, of which 969,000 were employed and 265,000 were unemployed,” Guillen said.

Also, Neda pointed to the decline in the underemployment rate — those employed who wanted longer working hours or higher-paying jobs — to 14.7 percent in August from July’s 20.9 percent due to “improving job conditions.”

For Neda, “the safe reopening of the economy, limiting restrictions to granular lockdowns, and accelerating the vaccination program are key to economic recovery.”

“Following the surge of cases in other areas outside of the National Capital Region (NCR), the government is now focusing vaccine distribution for more people in the other regions. Additionally, with increased vaccine supplies, accelerating vaccination may include the expansion of vaccination sites, including work sites, removing artificial barriers, and using technology to reduce the wait and processing time,” Neda said.

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