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DOLE hopes labor market will recover as economy gradually opens

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Friday said it already anticipated the record-high unemployment rate registered in April due to the impact of COVID-19, as it expressed hope that the labor force will recover as economic activities began to resume.

“When the global pandemic hit, we feared that employment would be impacted badly. We expected these results given that the health crisis has crippled most of our economic activities,” Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said in a statement.

“With the imposition of community quarantine, hundreds of thousands of establishments resorted to temporary closures or flexible work arrangements as evidenced by millions of workers affected both in the formal, informal, and overseas sectors,” Bello said.

Unemployment rate rose to 17.7%, equivalent to 7.3 million unemployed Filipinos in the labor force in April 2020, Philippine Statistics Authority’s latest Labor Force Survey showed.

The Labor chief said that before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Philippine employment situation was vibrant, expanding at 4% or 1.6 million net employment generated.

The government enforced strict quarantine measures to arrest the spread of COVID-19 from March 17 to May 31. The lockdown forced several businesses to temporarily close, causing millions of workers to be displaced.

“The lockdown during the community quarantine from March to May, which is supposed to be the period for job hunting of our fresh graduates, has put the labor force in a standstill as two-thirds of the economy is shut down,” Bello said.

As the entire country began to shift to more relaxed quarantine measures mid-May towards June, several businesses were allowed to reopen.

“As the economy opens gradually, we are hopeful that the labor market will also recover. The Department is committed to preserve and protect employment as we await the approval and implementation of the whole-of-government Recovery Plan in the remainder of the Duterte administration,” Bello said.

“Rest assured that we will continue to provide employment facilitation services, in different platforms - online, digital, face-to-face with the assistance of our Public Employment Service Offices (PESOs). We are also thankful to the private sector for continuously engaging with us in extending job opportunities to displaced Filipino workers,” he said.

The Labor chief encouraged companies to help connect Filipino jobseekers with the much needed decent jobs for the country and its economy to recover.—AOL, GMA News