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Philippine unemployment falls to lowest since January 2020

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People flock to the Markina public market, March 1. — Photo by Michael Varcas, The Philippine Star

By Mariedel Irish U. Catilogo

The Philippines’ unemployment charge fell to a two-year low in January as the scale of the workforce shrank due to stricter mobility curbs within the capital area, the federal government stated.

Preliminary outcomes of the Philippine Statistics Authority’s (PSA) January spherical of the Labor Force Survey confirmed the jobless charge stood at 6.4%, barely easing from 6.6% in December and eight.8% in January 2021.

This was the lowest share of the jobless to the overall labor pressure in two years or since the 5.3% in January 2020 earlier than the pandemic started.

In absolute phrases, the variety of unemployed Filipinos decreased by 347,000 to 2.925 million in January, from 3.272 million in December. It went down by 1.038 million to 3.964 million from a 12 months in the past.

“However, due to the Omicron surge in January, the labor force participation rate fell from 65.1% to 60.5%,” the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) stated in a press release. “Another reason for lower employment levels is the end of the holiday season which sheds off seasonal jobs. Despite this, net employment remains at 0.5 million above the pre-pandemic level.”

Metro Manila and different elements of the nation had been as soon as once more positioned below Alert Level 3 in January to include the Omicron-driven surge in new coronavirus illness 2019 (COVID-19) circumstances.

The measurement of the labor pressure in January fell month on month by 3.603 million to 45.943 million. On a year-on-year foundation, the scale of the workforce rose by 732,000 from 45.212 million.

This translated to a labor pressure participation charge — the overall labor inventory to the working age inhabitants of 15 years previous and over — of 60.5%. This was the lowest stage in six months or since a workforce measurement of 44.740 million and an LFPR of 59.8% in July final 12 months.

With the decrease stage of labor pressure that month, the employment charge — the share of the employed to the overall working pressure — elevated to 93.6%, greater than December’s 93.4% and January’s 91.2%.

In absolute phrases, employed Filipinos reached 43.018 million in January, decrease by 3.256 million from earlier month’s 46.274 million. However, it was greater by 1.770 million from 41.248 million employed a 12 months in the past.

“The Omicron surge caused a temporary decline in our employment levels. Now that we have contained the spread of the virus and shifted to Alert Level 1 in most parts of the country, we look forward to an improvement in employment outcomes in the coming months,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua stated in a press release.

However, the standard of accessible jobs barely worsened because the underemployment charge — the proportion of these already working, however nonetheless in search of extra work or longer working hours to the overall employed — rose to a six-month excessive of 14.9% in January from 14.7% in December.

This was equal to 6.397 million underemployed Filipinos, down by 414,000 from December’s 6.811 million.

A Filipino employee clocked in a median of 41.8 hours per week in January, 2.1 hours greater than 39.7 hours in every week in December.

More than half had been employed within the providers sector in January (58.9% from 56.6% in December), whereas agriculture accounted for 19.3% (from 17.8%) and business’s 19.3% (from 17.8%).

The reopening of the economic system resulted within the creation of extra jobs, however job high quality has remained within the doldrums, University of Asia and the Pacific Senior Economist Cid L. Terosa stated in an e-mail interview.

“This means that the jobs that were created were either transitory or casual jobs,” he stated.

In a separate electronic mail, Union Bank of the Philippines Chief Economist Ruben Carlo O. Asuncion stated stricter quarantine restrictions contributed to the decline in complete working pressure.

“There is also seasonality with lesser people being employed, particularly in agriculture, after the planting and certain harvest months,” he stated.

Meanwhile, Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO) Secretary General Josua T. Mata is anticipating a “bullish economy” for the approaching months as restrictions ease, however famous a tough restoration in some sectors comparable to tourism.

“The easing of restrictions and the election spending would have a positive impact on the employment sector. However, inflationary pressures could dampen employment generation especially if oil prices continue to hike,” he stated in e-mail interview.

For the primary quarter, the results of the economic system’s reopening and the downgrade to Alert Level 1 shall be apparent and the return to pre-pandemic ranges of employment could also be “just around the corner,” Mr. Asuncion stated.

“However, the geopolitical risks of late may have to delay the return to pre-pandemic employment because of the downside risk of rising inflation and dampened business projects,” he stated.

Mr. Terosa stated the labor information in February will probably be the identical as the present month, citing the impression of the Russia-Ukraine disaster on the nation’s financial restoration.

“I believe, however, that the negative effects of the geopolitical tension fomented by the Russia-Ukraine war will eventually manifest itself in the labor market. Rising prices and costs of doing business, particularly in March 2022, will thwart early signs of recovery in the labor market,” Mr. Terosa added.

“Without this unfortunate external factor, I would have been optimistic that the labor market would return to normalcy after the first semester of 2022,” Mr. Asuncion stated.

In late February, Russia invaded Ukraine within the pretext of demilitarization and “denazification,” sending shockwaves within the international economic system. Global commodity costs, significantly oil, surged to multiyear highs.

International benchmark Brent crude, for one, soared previous $100 per barrel for the primary time since 2014 firstly of the invasion. Local pump costs additionally skyrocketed, driving up prices of primary items and providers.

NEDA stated the federal government is about to distribute assist amounting to P6.1 billion to transport, agriculture and fisheries staff to reduce the inflationary pressures introduced by the Russia-Ukraine battle.

In addition, money help amounting P2,400 shall be given to the underside 50% of Filipino households affected by the rising costs of primary items.

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