Jobless rate up slightly in December
MANILA, Philippines — The unemployment rate went up slightly in December from the previous month, but the number of Filipinos looking for additional work declined, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).
At a briefing yesterday, National Statistician Dennis Mapa said the country’s unemployment rate was estimated at 4.3 percent last December, up slightly from 4.2 percent in November.
He said the December 2022 unemployment rate is the second lowest since April 2005, next to the November 2022 figure.
The December unemployment rate is lower, however, compared to the 6.6 percent jobless rate in the same month in 2021.
The latest unemployment rate translated to 2.22 million jobless individuals in December last year, increasing slightly from 2.18 million in November 2022, even as the strong demand due to the holiday season is usually expected to have a positive effect on employment.
Mapa said the difference in the unemployment numbers in December and November last year is not statistically significant.
Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. chief economist Michael Ricafort said the slightly higher unemployment rate in December compared to November was “partly due to relatively higher number of holidays during the month; higher prices/inflation, higher interest rates and risk of US recession that are drags on the creation of more investments that, in turn, entail the creation of more jobs or employment opportunities.”
According to the PSA, the sub-sectors which had the biggest drops in employed individuals in December from November are manufacturing (-585,000); wholesale and retail trade repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles (-387,000); accommodation and food service activities (-240,000); human health and social work activities (-239,000) and real estate activities (-168,000).
For full year 2022, the average unemployment rate is at 5.4 percent, slightly higher than the 5.1 percent pre-pandemic average in 2019.
Meanwhile, the country’s underemployment rate or those looking for additional hours of work or jobs eased to 12.6 percent in December last year from 14.4 percent in November 2022 and 14.7 percent in December 2021.
There were 6.20 million underemployed individuals in December last year, down from the 7.16 million in November 2022.
Average underemployment rate in 2022 was at 14.2 percent, near the pre-pandemic average of 14 percent in 2019.
The country’s employment rate was at 95.7 percent in December last year, lower than the 95.8 percent in November 2022, but higher than the 93.4 percent in December 2021.
This translates to 49 million employed Filipinos in December last year, down from the 49.71 million in November 2022, but up from the 46.27 million in December 2021.
Sub-sectors with the highest increase in employment in December last year from November are agriculture and forestry (829,000); fishing and aquaculture (291,000); administrative and support service activities (257,000); construction (138,000) and other service activities (123,000).
The country’s labor force participation rate in December 2022 was at 66.4 percent, lower than the 67.5 percent in November 2022, but higher than the 65.1 percent in December 2021.
National Economic and Development Authority director general Arsenio Balisacan said the government remains committed to providing more, better quality and green jobs to Filipinos through the strategies under the Philippine Development Plan 2023 to 2028.
Amid the rise in the country’s jobless rate, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) yesterday vowed to enhance its existing programs to address the growing number of unemployed nationwide.
“This employment situation will serve to inspire and guide the DOLE to perform better so as to sustain the same,” Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma said.
Meanwhile, Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) vice president Luis Corral stressed the need for decent and better quality employment to enable workers to cope with the rising prices of commodities.
Corral noted that underemployment in the country remains significant at double-digit figures.
Underemployment, he said, indicates that workers need more and better jobs as their income under their current employment remains insufficient.
“While they are formally categorized as employed, they are trapped in the vicious cycle where they neither have decent wage nor job security,” Corral pointed out.
“This predicament is worsened by the fact that January 2023 headline inflation further accelerated to 8.7 percent, driven by food inflation at 11.2 percent. They and their families are left to struggle every day for their necessities in the face of skyrocketing prices of basic goods and services,” Corral added.
The government should focus on creating new decent jobs to ensure sustainable high economic growth, Corral said.
The TUCP also asked the government to provide capitalization support, low-interest lending programs, loan-forgiveness programs and temporary tax deferrals for small and medium enterprises.
In a related development, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) reported that it is continuously giving upskilling training to women to widen their employment opportunities.
“We are prioritizing women and giving them skills training, including non-traditional trades such as construction, welding, plumbing and automotive servicing,” TESDA director general Danilo Cruz said.
He noted that eight of 10 female techvoc graduates were employed, with the figure slightly higher than males.
TESDA is also providing training for those who want to start their own business. Entrepreneurial training is also being offered online, it said. – Mayen Jaymalin