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Jobless Filipinos down further to 2.21M in August, employed up to 48.07M —PSA

The number of Filipinos without jobs or livelihoods declined further in August, while employed persons grew during the period, results of the Philippine Statistics Authority’s (PSA) latest Labor Force Survey showed.

At a press conference on Friday, National Statistician and PSA chief Claire Dennis Mapa reported that the number of unemployed persons, ages 15 and above, shrank to 2.21 million from 2.27 million in July and much lower than the 2.68 million jobless seen in the same month last year.

As a percentage of the total 50.29 million people in the labor force who are actively seeking work, the unemployment rate stood at 4.4%.

The unemployment rate in August this year was lower than the 4.8% joblessness rate in July and the 5.3% in August last year.

This means 44 out of 1,000 individuals in the labor force do not have a job or livelihood in August 2023, Mapa said.

Meanwhile, the number of employed Filipinos increased to 48.07 million, up from 44.63 million in July and also higher than the 47.87 million persons with jobs or livelihoods in August 2022.

This translates to an employment rate of 95.6%, higher than the 95.2% rate in July and the 94.7% in the same period last year. 

The increase in both employed and unemployed was on the back of the month-on-month increase in labor force participation from 46.90 million in July, with a rate of 64.7%, up from 60.1% month-on-month.

“Maraming pumasok sa labor force kaya bumaba ang unemployment (Many entered the labor force that’s why unemployment went down),” Mapa said.

The top five sub-sectors in terms of annual increments in employed persons are the following:

  • Fishing and aquaculture (572,000)
  • Construction (534,000)
  • Agriculture and forestry (378,000)
  • Human health and social work activities (153,000)
  • Administrative and support service activities (143,000)

Mapa said there was an observed increase in planting- and school-related activities during the period, after the consecutive typhoons.

In contrast, the top five sub-sectors with the largest year-on-year drop in employed persons are as follows:

  • Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles (-1.21 million)
  • Public administration and defense; compulsory social security (-228,000)
  • Financial and insurance activities (-197,000)
  • Information and communication (-134,000)
  • Mining and quarrying (-89,000)

Mapa said wage and salary workers accounted for the largest percentage of employed persons at 62.6% of the total, followed by self-employed persons at 27.3% and unpaid family workers at 8%.

Employers in their own family-operated farm or business had the lowest share at 2.1%.

Among wage and salary workers, those employed in private establishments remained as the highest group with 49.2% share, followed by those working in government or government-controlled firms with 8.7%.

Meanwhile, the number of underemployed persons — those who expressed a desire to have additional hours of work in their present job or to have an additional or new job with longer hours of work — stood at 5.63 million, lower by 1.47 million in July and by 1.40 million in August 2022.

The underemployment rate settled at 11.7%, lower than the 15.9% in July and 14.7% in August 2022. 

The Presidential Communications Office, meanwhile, said that the Marcos administration would remain dedicated "to providing high-quality, well-paying job opportunities for the Filipino workforce."

It mentioned that President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. signed the Trabaho Para sa Bayan Act to enhance employability.

Moreover, the Senate's approval of the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Act and the launch of the National Innovation Agenda and Strategy Document (NIASD) for 2023-2032 are expected to create more opportunities.

"By focusing on these key initiatives, the government aims to propel the nation toward a more resilient and prosperous future, ensuring that the Filipino workforce not only survives but thrives in an evolving job market," the PCO said.

In a separate statement, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said the government will continue its efforts to create better job opportunities for workers in the country.

“To raise the quality of employment further, the Marcos administration is committed to exerting all efforts to shape an attractive business climate for investors who have the resources needed to bring in high-quality and high-paying jobs,” Balisacan said.

Balisacan cited recent developments, such as the Senate’s approval of the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Act and the launch of the National Innovation Agenda and Strategy Document (NIASD) 2023-2032, that are expected to open greater opportunities for the Philippine labor market.

Passed by the Senate after its third and final reading on September 25, 2023, the PPP Act aims to establish a stable and predictable environment for collaboration between the public and private sectors by reducing transaction costs and improving the ease of doing business for PPPs. 

On the other hand, the NIASD 2023-2032, which was approved by the National Innovation Council chaired by the President on June 30 and launched on September 27, 2023, contains strategies to improve innovation governance in the country, including capacitating innovation actors with the necessary resources and skills. 

“The PPP Act is a welcome development for investors as it clarifies long-standing ambiguities that have hindered the implementation of several projects that are expected to create better job opportunities. Meanwhile, the NIASD will serve as the government’s blueprint for establishing a dynamic innovation ecosystem, comprising a Filipino workforce equipped with 21st century skills to enhance their employability,” Balisacan said. —with Anna Felicia Bajo/KBK, GMA Integrated News