The unemployment rate declined to 7.1 percent in March, the lowest since the height of the enhanced community quarantine in April 2020 which the government enforced to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Philippine Statistics Authority said Thursday.
Data from the PSA showed that unemployment rate eased from 8.8 percent in February and 8.7 percent in January. It did not provide data on year-on-year comparison.
It said the number of unemployed Filipinos 15 years and over in March was estimated at 3.44 million, a reduction of about 747,000 unemployed persons from February 2021.
Employment rate rose to 92.9 percent in March from 91.2 percent in February. This translated into a month-on-month increase of about 2.18 million Filipinos who had job or business to 45.33 million in March from 43.15 million in February.
Underemployment rate also fell to 16.2 percent in March from 18.2 percent in February. In terms of magnitude, about 7.34 million of the employed persons expressed 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 hours of work in March 2021.
Economic managers led by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, Economic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua and Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado said the labor market continued to see gains in March following the further reopening of the economy, while adhering to the minimum health standards.
“Rising labor force participation and falling unemployment have enabled millions of Filipinos to regain their jobs and incomes in March 2021,” they said in a joint statement.
Following the second spike in COVID-19 infections in the latter half of March, the government again prioritized saving lives using the ECQ and modified ECQ period to further improve the health system capacity.
“Given the imposition of ECQ and MECQ in the NCR-plus bubble from March 29 to May 15, 2021, we expect to see a temporary reversal of these employment gains in the next LFS round. However, the impact is expected to be less severe compared to April 2020 given our more risk-managed approach to the present quarantines,” they said.
They said that unlike last year’s ECQ and MECQ where around three-fourths of the economy was shut down, most sectors of the economy, including public transport, were allowed to operate subject to guidelines from the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
To help low-income families cope with the ECQ, the government swiftly implemented a supplemental social amelioration program amounting to P22.9 billion for 22.9 million individuals in the NCR-Plus bubble, which includes the adjacent provinces of Bulacan, Rizal, Cavite and Laguna.
The government also reduced the tariff rates and increased the minimum access volume for pork to address the supply shortage through importation and help bring down rising food inflation.
“This decisive measure will benefit some 100 million Filipino consumers of pork, especially those who have lost their jobs or income due to the quarantine restrictions,” they said.