Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) indicates that despite the local economy’s reopening in February, unemployment numbers had only increased from January.
From 8.7% at the beginning of 2021, the unemployment rate rose to 8.8% in February.
In terms of actual individuals, the rate increase is equivalent to an additional 200,000 jobless Filipinos, which now totals at 4.2 million.
The underemployment rate, which measures the number of employed individuals seeking another job, shot up as well from 16% (6.6 million) to 18.2% (7.9 million).
This increase is indicative of difficulty keeping up with the rising prices of goods and services.
Businesses also sought less working hours per week to lower operation costs, with 39.3 hours going down to 38.9.
The labor force survey (LFS) also revealed that from March 2020 to February 2021, almost 9.1 million individuals were laid off either temporarily or permanently.
As for the labor force participation rate, which shows the percentage of individuals employed or seeking employment, there was an increase from 60.5% in January, to 63.5% the next month.
The labor force itself, accounting for both employed and unemployed individuals, went from 45.2 million to 47.3 million in the same time frame.
Meanwhile, the country’s economic managing team which includes Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado, and Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Chua, as well as National Statistician Dennis Mapa, say there is optimism to be found in employment and the economy.
Mapa mentioned that the rise in the unemployment rate was expected; although more people joined the labor force, not everyone found a job.
He added that the employment rate was still high despite lowering from 91.3% to 91.2%.
The economic team said that the economy’s gradual reopening resulted in almost 1.9 million jobs restored, and that in time this number will grow.
Within the economic sector, administrative and support service activities experienced the largest employment dip from 1.8 million to 1.6 million in the span of a month.
On the other hand, the wholesale and retail trade industry’s employment boomed from 8.6 million to 9.6 million in the same period of time.
The PSA will conduct the LFS monthly amidst the ongoing pandemic, as Filipinos all over the country continue to struggle against employment challenges and rising food prices.