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More jobless Filipinos recorded in December — PSA data

There were more jobless Filipinos in December even as the country’s active workforce declined during the month, data released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) on Wednesday showed.

Preliminary results of the December 2022 Labor Force Survey indicated that there were 2.22 million unemployed persons aged 15 and above during the month, equivalent to an unemployment rate of 4.3%.

This is higher than the 2.18 million unemployed Filipinos in November when the unemployment rate stood at 4.2%, but lower than the 3.28 million jobless Filipinos in December 2021 when the unemployment rate was 6.6%.

The year-on-year comparison showed the Marcos administration's efforts to fully reopen the economy, President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. said.

"Our efforts to fully reopen the economy have resulted in 1.7 million more Filipinos joining the workforce, leading to a rise in the labor force participation rate, which has now reached 66.4%," Marcos said in a tweet.

"We welcome this clear sign of post-pandemic recovery among many other positive steps we are taking for our country," he added.

The labor force participation rate for the month stood at 66.4% or 51.22 million individuals, lower than the 67.5% in the previous month in the same year.

The employment rate for the month fell to 95.7% or 49 million Filipinos from 95.8% in November or 49.71 million employed Filipinos, but increased from 93.4% in December 2021 when there were 46.27 million employed individuals.

Services continued to account for the biggest share of employment with 58.9% or 28.86 million individuals, followed by the industry sector with 17.1% or 8.38 million individuals, and the agriculture sector with 24.0% or 11.76 million.

Industries with the biggest year-on-year declines in employment were human health and social work activities down by 306,000; agriculture and forestry by 225,000; public administration and defense by 88,000; real estate activities by 71,000; and professional, scientific, and technical activities by 32,000.

The largest year-on-year increase was recorded in wholesale and retail trade which climbed by 993,000; followed by other service activities up by 563,000; administration and support service activities by 513,000; accommodation and food service by 470,000; and transportation and storage by 275,000.

In terms of underemployment, there were some 6.20 million employed persons who expressed the desire to have additional hours of work in their present job. or to have an additional job, or to have a new job with longer hours of work.

This translated to an underemployment rate of 12.6%, lower than the 14.4% recorded in the November 2022, and the 14.7% rate reported in the same month of 2021. 

“We are steadfast in pursuing this year’s growth target amidst global and domestic risks to ensure that jobs are preserved and new employment is generated,” National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said in a separate statement.

“Generating more and high-quality jobs in the agriculture sector and ensuring food security for Filipinos remain part of our top priorities,” he added.

Under the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) adopted into law by President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., the government targets economic growth of between 6% and 7% this year, and 6.5% to 8.0% from 2024 to 2028.

The latest PDP also targets to lower the unemployment rate to between 4% and 5% by 2028.

“Alongside providing high-quality jobs, we must ensure that their skills are not just aligned with current in-demand requirements but can also continuously keep up with the demands of evolving and emerging jobs,” Balisacan said.

“Crucial to achieving social and economic transformation is the ‘transformation of talent’ that would create an agile labor force and sustain labor market gains. We will leverage our momentum to ensure the rapid and dynamic growth of our economy,” he added. — with Anna Felicia Bajo/RSJ, GMA Integrated News