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Jobless Filipinos up to 2.37M in January 2023 —PSA

The number of jobless Filipinos increased in January this year amid the decline of seasonal jobs following the holiday season, data released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) on Thursday showed.

Preliminary results of the January 2023 Labor Force Survey revealed that there were 2.237 million unemployed adults, or those aged 15 years old and above. The number was higher than the 2.22 million recorded in December last year.

This brought the unemployment rate to stand at 4.8%, up from 4.3% in December 2022.

This is also the highest joblessness rate since September 2022’s 5%.

“Tataas ang unemployment rate sa 2023 first quarter dahil wala ng holiday season,” said National Statistician and PSA chief Claire Dennis Mapa.

(It is expected that the unemployment rate in the first quarter of 2023 will go up since the holiday season is over.)

The PSA chief noted that the unemployment rate was lower during the fourth quarter months of last year due to “seasonality” of economic activity during the holiday season.

Year-on-year, however, the unemployment rate improved from the 6.4% joblessness rate recorded in January 2022.

“The latest employment indicators show the robust recovery and growth of our labor market from its slump in January 2022, when the surge in Omicron cases prompted stringent mobility and capacity restrictions,” National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said in a statement.

Consequently, the employment rate fell to 95.2%, equivalent to 47.35 million employed Filipinos during the period, from 95.7% rate or 49 million persons with jobs or livelihoods in December 2022.

Year-on-year, January’s employment figures improved from 93.6% rate or 43.27 million employed individuals in January 2022.

“However, we note that employment created year-on-year was mostly part-time and classified as vulnerable. Thus, it is imperative that labor market policies and programs that directly contribute to labor productivity and employment generation must be prioritized, not only to preserve jobs but also to generate quality jobs,” Balisacan said.

This, as underemployed persons — those employed but expressed the desire to have additional hours of work in their present job —  increased to 6.65 million from 6.30 million in December 2022.

The labor force participation rate rebounded to 64.5%, equivalent to 49.7 million Filipinos in the labor force, of which 20.6 million are women.

The following are the top five sectors with the highest year-on-year increase in the number of employed person in January 2023:

  • Wholesale and retail trade, repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles (1.53 million)
  • Agriculture and forestry (960,000)
  • Accommodation and food service activities (549,000)
  • Transportation and storage (303,000)
  • Other service activities (203,000)

In contrast, the three sectors that exhibited year-on-year drop in the number of employed were as follows:

  • Construction (-334,000)
  • Water supply; sewerage, waste management and remediation activities (-34,000)
  • Professional, scientific and technical activities (-19,000)

Mapa said that wage and salary workers contributed the largest share of employed persons with 62.3% in January 2023.

This was followed by self-employed persons without any paid employee at 27.1% and unpaid family workers at 8.1%.

Employers in their own family-operated farm or business have the lowest share at 2.6%.

Among wage ang salary workers, employed persons in private establishments made up 48.5 percentage points, followed by employed in government and government-owned and controlled corporations at 9.2 percentage points, Mapa said.

By region, five regions registered unemployment rates higher than the national rate of 4.8% in January 2023, namely Region V (6.6%), CALABARZON (5.9%), National Capital Region (5.7%), Region VI (5.6%), and Caraga (5.0%).

Balisacan emphasized the implementation of the strategies on human capital development outlined in the Philippine Development Plan 2023-2028.

“High-quality jobs necessitate highly-skilled individuals. We will prioritize the upskilling and reskilling of the workforce to equip them with higher competencies by expanding  lifelong learning opportunities,” he said. 

“At the same time, we will ensure that employment opportunities are available and the information accessible.” —KBK, GMA Integrated News