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Unemployed Filipinos increased to 2.04M in April —PSA

The number of Filipinos without jobs or livelihoods continued to increase for the second straight month in April

The number of Filipinos without jobs or livelihoods continued to increase for the second straight month in April as the ongoing effects of El Niño phenomenon affected labor demand, especially in the agriculture sector, according to the results of the Philippine Statistics Authority’s (PSA) latest Labor Force Survey (LFS).

At a press conference on Thursday, PSA chief and National Statistician Claire Dennis Mapa said the number of jobless individuals, ages 15 and above, rose to 2.04 million in April from 2 million in March.

Year-on-year, the number of unemployed in April this year was lower than the 2.26 million jobless persons in April 2023.

As a percentage of the total 50.40 million people in the labor force, who are actively looking for work, the unemployment rate stood at 4%, up from 3.9% in March.

El Niño impact

Mapa said there was a notable year-on-year decrease of employed persons in the agriculture and forestry sector at 818,000.

“This could be because of the impact of El Niño… as production was lower, you have that decrease also in employed [persons],” the PSA chief said.

As of the first quarter of 2024, crop production saw a decline of 0.3% to P247.04 billion.

The country’s main crop, rice, meanwhile, declined by 1.96% to 4.69 million metric tons in the first quarter blamed on the drier weather brought by the El Niño phenomenon.

Relatedly, Mapa said the number of employed persons in the growing of paddy rice sub-sector saw a decline of 462,000.

Likewise, the growing of leafy and fruit-bearing vegetables and corn sub-sectors posted decreases in the number of employed individuals of 166,000 and 127,000, respectively.

Apart from agriculture and forestry, the following sectors posted the highest decreases in employed persons:

  • Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles (-587,000)
  • Human health and social work activities (-85,000)
  • Public administration and defense, compulsory social security (-72,000)
  • Real estate activities (-68,000)


Consequently, the number of employed individuals in April decreased to 48.36 million from 49.15 million in March.

Year-on-year, the number of persons with jobs and livelihoods increased from 48.06 million in April 2023.

As a percentage of total labor market participants, the employment rate stood at 96% down from 96.1% in March but higher than the 95.5% in April last year.

Sectors with the highest growth in employed persons are accommodation and food service activities (638,000), construction (378,000), transportation and storage (289,000), manufacturing (285,000), and other service activities (200,000).   

The services sector remained as the top sector in terms of number of employed, accounting for 61.4% of the total employed individuals during the period.

The agriculture and industry sectors, meanwhile, accounted for 20.3% and 18.3% of the employed persons in April, respectively.

The LFS survey also showed that wage and salary workers had the largest share of employed persons with 63.6%, followed by self-employed persons without any paid employee at 27.9% and unpaid family workers at 6.5%. 

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

Among wage and salary workers, those employed in private establishments remained to have the highest share of 78.7% of the wage and salary workers or 50% of the total employed. the PSA said.

This was followed by those employed in government or government-controlled corporations with a share of 14% of the wage and salary workers or 8.9% of the total employed.


Underemployed individuals — those seeking additional working hours or to have additional jobs — rose to 7.04 million from 5.39 million in March, translating to an underemployment rate of 14.6% from 11% month-on-month.

Year-on-year, the underemployment rate also grew from 12.9% in April 2023.

Despite this, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said there was a surge in middle-skilled occupations (1.3 million) and full-time employment (6.1 million), “indicating improved job quality.”

“The government's massive infrastructure push is expected to create opportunities in several priority sectors, such as energy, logistics, and tourism. The government will also explore opportunities for quality job growth in the mining sector, leveraging available technologies to develop value-adding activities such as mineral processing," said NEDA Secretary Arsenio Balisacan. 

On April 30, President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. signed Executive Order No. 59, which aims to expedite the implementation of the country's Infrastructure Flagship Projects and improve the ease of doing business. 

This is expected to further encourage investments and job creation in the country, according to Balisacan.

“Investing in human capital—improving education, healthcare, and social services— remains a top priority. The government is currently drafting the Trabaho Para sa Bayan (TPB) Plan, which will serve as the country's comprehensive employment generation and recovery master plan. It aims to address unemployment, underemployment, informal working arrangements, and other labor market challenges," said Balisacan.

--VAL, GMA Integrated News