Higher unemployment within forecast

October 1, 2021

The unemployment rate inched up 8.1 percent in August from 6.9 percent in July, but the administration’s economic planners are downplaying the numbers citing the reimposition of hard lockdowns in Metro Manila and other key areas that added to the pressure.

“Unemployment rate in the country increased between July and August 2021 from 6.9 percent to 8.1 percent. This result is expected, given the stricter quarantine imposed to curb the spread of the delta variant,” the state’s economic managers said.

“While the unemployment rate slightly increased, net job creation was significant, and the underemployment rate decreased substantially,” they added.

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed some 3.88 million Filipinos were out of a job in August from the 3.07 million recorded the previous month.

Despite the increase, National Statistician Claire Dennis Mapa noted the higher labor force participation rate in August, growing to 63.6 percent from just 59.8 percent in the same comparable period.

This translates to about 48.12 million Filipinos aged 15 years old and over, who were either employed or unemployed, Mapa said.

Meanwhile, the employment rate dropped to only 91.9 percent in August 2021 from the registered 93.1 percent month ago, translating to about 44.23 million Filipinos with jobs.

Underemployed Filipinos decreased in August with 6.48 million or 14.7 percent of the overall labor force versus the posted 8.69 million in July.

Faster vaccination drive
Still, the economic managers reiterated their call for a safe reopening of the economy, limiting restrictions to granular lockdowns coupled with the acceleration of the vaccination program to accelerate economic activities and generate more jobs.

According to the state economists, the number of Covid-19 cases based on a seven-day moving average dropped by around 15 percent, supporting their suggestion for looser quarantine restrictions.

“Furthermore, as of 27 September 2021, 23.8 million Filipinos have received their first vaccine dose, while 20.6 million are already fully vaccinated,” they explained.

“With further vaccine deliveries in the coming months, we are ready to scale up the inoculation drive. We have already proven that we can administer the shots to our people,” they added.
The economic managers remained optimistic the Philippines would regain its pre-pandemic growth momentum by the end-2022 or early 2023.

Relatively the same
Nicholas Mapa, a senior economist at the ING Bank, said jobs data in September could remain “relatively similar” with the August figures, adding that labor market challenges might hamper the recovery in household consumption.