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Unemployed Filipinos up to 2.47M in February 2023 —PSA

The number of unemployed Filipinos rose in February this year as the labor market failed to absorb a portion of the labor force that saw an increase during the period, data released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) on Tuesday showed.

“Ang unemployed persons o bilang ng mga nasa labor force na walang trabaho o negosyo nitong Pebrero 2023 ay nasa 2.47 million,” PSA chief and National Statistician Claire Dennis Mapa said at a press conference on the preliminary results of the February 2023 Labor Force Survey (LFS).

(The unemployed persons or the number of those in the labor force without jobs or livelihoods in February 2023 stood at 2.47 million.)

The number of jobless adults — ages 15 and above — was higher than the 2.37 million unemployed seen in January, but lower than the 3.13 million jobless in February 2022, Mapa said.

This translates to unemployment rate of 4.8%, same level month-on-month but lower than the 6.4% unemployment rate year-on-year.

The 4.8% unemployment rate is equivalent to 48 jobless persons out of 1,000 individuals in the labor force.

Despite the higher joblessness in February, the number of employed persons saw an increase of 1.45 million, bringing the total number of individuals in the labor force with jobs or livelihoods to 48.80 million from 47.35 million in January.

It is also higher than the 45.48 million employed persons in February 2022.

The employment rate during the period stood at 95.2%, same level month-on-month and higher than the 93.6% rate year-on-year.

Mapa explained that the increase in jobless persons while at the same time the number employed adults also rose in February was due to the expansion in labor participation at 51.27 million, up by 1.55 million from 49.72 million in January.

This translates to a labor force participation rate of 66.6%, out of 77 million Filipinos ages 15 and above.

The rise in labor participation, the PSA chief said, has been observed since July 2022 amid the further opening up of the economy and easing of COVID-19 restrictions.

“In simple explanation, hindi lahat ng nag-join sa labor force ay na-absorb ng ating labor market na nagkaroon ng trabaho,” Mapa said.

(In simple explanation, not everyone who joined the labor force was absorbed by the labor market and found jobs.)

Out of the 1.55 million expansion in the labor force, 1.45 million were employed while 100,000 failed to find jobs.

“That is an unfortunate fact… while there is an increase in labor force participation and a substantial portion of those found employment, unfortunately there is a portion that failed to get employed,” Mapa said.

Meanwhile, the underemployed persons — those employed persons who expressed the desire to have additional hours of work or to have a new job with longer hours of work — stood at 6.29 million, down from 6.65 million in January. It is also lower than the 6.38 million underemployed in February 2022.

This translates to an underemployment rate of 12.9%, which was lower than the reported underemployment rate in February 2022 at 14% and in January 2023 at 14.1%.

The broad industry group, services sector consistently dominated the labor market with 59.6% share to the total employed population in February.

The agriculture and industry sectors accounted for 24.1% and 16.3% of the total employed persons, respectively.

In a separate statement, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said that “the most recent data on the country’s workforce suggests that the Philippine labor market is steadily recovering.”

“The lifting of various restrictions that previously impeded employment opportunities has resulted in an increase in job prospects for Filipino workers,” Balisacan said.

The country’s chief economist said the government should persist in enabling the creation of high-quality jobs on the demand side and ensuring the upskilling and retooling of workers on the supply side.

“On the demand side, the strategy to create high-quality job opportunities begins with attracting more investments especially in infrastructure and in improving the regulatory environment. These interventions will improve the competitiveness of the entire economy and result in greater investor interest in other industries. Our participation in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and the amendments to the Public Service Act pave the way for more high-paying job opportunities being made available to Filipinos,” Balisacan said. —KBK, GMA Integrated News