The unemployment rate fell to 5.2 percent in July, its lowest level since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority show Thursday.
The PSA said the latest figure improved from the 7.2-percent unemployment rate in the same period last year. It was also the lowest for all July rounds of the Labor Force Survey since 2005 and lower than 6.0 percent in June.
The PSA said the number of unemployed individuals declined to 2.60 million in July from 3.23 million a year ago. The number of unemployed individuals in June was estimated at 2.99 million.
“Similarly, the underemployment rate plunged to 13.8 percent from 21.0 percent in July 2021. This is equivalent to 2.2 million fewer underemployed individuals,” the National Economic and Development Authority said.
“We expect more jobs and income opportunities available for Filipinos in the coming months as we move toward the full reopening of the economy. These opportunities will help temper the impact of global inflationary pressures on the purchasing power of Filipinos,” Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said.
Data showed the employment rate picked up to 94.8 percent in July from 94.0 percent in the previous month. The number of employed persons was estimated at 47.39 million in July, up from 41.67 million in the same period last year and 46.59 million in June.
The labor force participation rate also improved to 65.2 percent in July, translating into 49.99 million Filipinos 15 years and older who were either employed or unemployed.
Underemployed persons were estimated at 6.54 million in July, lower than 8.77 million reported a year earlier, but higher than 5.89 million in June.
Underemployed individuals are employed persons who expressed the desire to have additional hours of work in their present job, have an additional job or to have a new job with longer hours of work.
Visible underemployment rate or the proportion of employed persons working less than 40 hours a week was estimated at 9.0 percent in July, lower than the estimated rates in the same month last year at 11.0 percent and in April 2022 at 9.2 percent, but higher than the recorded rate in June of 8.5 percent.
“The continuous reopening of schools is a pivotal step for all economic players. The latest data show that as more youth have opted to return to face-to-face classes, women were also relieved from additional care work at home, allowing for more possibilities for them to be economically active,” Balisacan said.
The majority of the increase in employment came from the services sector, particularly in wholesale and retail trade. This was followed by the agriculture and industry sectors.
“We need to intensify the vaccination program by increasing the country’s booster rate to sustain low alert levels and reinvigorate domestic economic activity,” Balisacan said.
He also underscored the need for the timely implementation of the 2022 national budget and the passage of the 2023 budget to accelerate recovery and jumpstart priority programs in the medium term to mitigate the impact of external risks to the economy.