The unemployment rate widened from 8.1 percent in August to 8.9 percent in September, the highest since July 2020, as Metro Manila remained under the modified enhanced community quarantine until Sept. 15 and a typhoon led to job losses in the agriculture sector, the Philippine Statistics Authority said Thursday.
National statistician and civil registrar general Dennis Mapa said in an online briefing the 8.9-percent jobless rate in September was also the highest this year, when the PSA started to release labor survey data on a monthly basis. Prior to 2021, PSA was releasing the data on a quarterly basis.
“There was a decline in agriculture employment because of the end of the harvest season and the other factor was the bad weather condition,” Mapa said.
The top five sub-sectors with the biggest drop in the number of employed persons from August to September were agriculture and forestry, -862,000; manufacturing, -343,000; information and communication, -126,000; mining and quarrying, -75,000; and, real estate activities, -69,000.
Typhoon Jolina affected some 30,000 hectares of agricultural land across Central Luzon, Calabarzon, MIMAROPA, Bicol, Western Visayas, Central Visayas and Eastern Visayas, and contributed to around 900,000 employment loss in the sector. The decline came after the sector regained 1.9 million employment in August.
Economic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua said the unemployment also slightly increased as the country’s economic centers remained under stringent quarantines and as weather disturbances affected agriculture, but added that employment prospects remained promising as the country shifted to granular lockdowns.
“These results were expected as many parts of the country remained under stringent and blanket quarantines for most of the survey period. In particular, the modified enhanced community quarantine was extended in the National Capital Region up to Sept. 15,” Chua said in a statement following the release of the labor data.
Chua said better labor outcomes could be expected in October when the country started the implementation of granular lockdowns in NCR. This strategy was effective in bringing down cases from its peak in early September, he said.
“Overall, the economy has generated 1.1 million employment above the pre-pandemic level. This signals the Philippines’ continuing recovery. We look forward to the expansion of the alert level and granular lockdown system to the whole country to recover more jobs and livelihoods,” Chua said.
Mapa said there were around 4.25 million unemployed persons in September, up from around 3.88 million in August.
Employment rate in September dropped to 91.1 percent from the 91.9 percent reported in August 2021. This translated to a reduction of 642,000 employed individuals from 44.23 million total employed in August to 43.59 million in September.
The labor force participation rate in September slightly dropped to 63.3 percent from 63.6 percent in August 2021. The drop was equivalent to a magnitude of about 269,000 Filipinos 15 years old and over who were either employed or unemployed.
Meanwhile, the underemployment rate was estimated at 14.2 percent in September accounting for 6.18 million of the 43.59 million employed persons. This was the second lowest reported this year following the 12.3 percent underemployment rate in May 2021. The same underemployment rate of 14.2 percent was reported in June.
The country’s unemployment rate dropped to its lowest level on record at 17.6 percent in April 2020 at the height of the strictest form of lockdown in Luzon at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.