Unemployment slightly up at 4.3 percent in December but underemployment eases


Posted at Feb 08 2023 09:25 AM | Updated as of Feb 08 2023 05:56 PM

Pedestrians walk at a crossing in Makati City on July 12, 2022. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News
Pedestrians walk at a crossing in Makati City on July 12, 2022. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA (UPDATE) - More Filipino workers were jobless in December, but fewer workers were underemployed, according to the preliminary data released on Wednesday by the Philippine Statistics Authority.

The unemployment rate settled at 4.3 percent in December, equivalent to 2.22 million jobless Filipinos. December's figure is slightly higher compared to the 2.18 million or 4.2 percent rate in November 2022, the PSA said.

December 2022’s jobless rate was the second lowest since 2005, the PSA said, trailing only the November 2022 figure. It was also much lower than the unemployment rate in December 2021 which was at 6.6 percent.

Full year unemployment rate for 2022 is 5.4 percent compared to the pre-pandemic average of 5.1 percent in 2019. 

Underemployment, meanwhile, eased to 12.6 percent, equivalent to 6.2 million Filipinos seeking more jobs or job hours. December's underemployment rate was better than the 14.4 percent or 7.16 million seen in the previous month, data showed.

The underemployment rate averaged 14.2 percent in 2022, near the pre-pandemic level of 14 percent, National Statistician Dennis Mapa said.

“Ito talaga ay significantly different [compared to employment and unemployment rate], talagang may significant na pagbaba sa percentage ng underemployment rate kasama na rin ang number,” Mapa said.

(This is really significant. There is a significant downshift in underemployment rate as well as the total number.)

Mapa said the drop in underemployment is an indicator that the quality of jobs being created is improving. This is also supported by data showing more Filipinos worked full time or 40 hours or more in a week in December.

Falling underemployment means more Filipinos are earning enough to take care of their living expenses.

The overall employment rate in the country is also slightly lower in December at 95.7 percent or 49 million compared to November's 95.8 percent rate or 49.71 million Filipinos, the PSA said.

In a tweet, Marcos said the government's measures to open the economy led to 1.7 million more jobs, noting that the country's year-on-year unemployment rate has improved from 6.6 percent in 2021 to 4.3 percent in 2022. 

"Our efforts... have resulted in 1.7 million more Filipinos joining the workforce, leading to a rise in the labor force participation rate, which has now reached 66.4 percent," said Marcos in his tweet. 

"We welcome this clear sign of post-pandemic recovery among many other positive steps we are taking for our country," he added. 


Around 585,000 jobs were lost in manufacturing in December, the PSA said.

Other subsectors which saw large drops in the number of employed persons from November to December included: 

  • 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).

Meanwhile, the sectors which added the most jobs during the period included:

  • 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 continued economic recovery bolstered the labor force participation rate to 66.4 percent from 65.1 percent the previous year, data showed.

“The government remains committed to providing more, better and green job opportunities to Filipinos and sustaining a vibrant labor market through the strategies articulated in the Philippine Development Plan 2023-2028,” National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said.

The Philippine economy grew 7.6 percent in 2022, beating analysts’ forecasts. But economists said growth could be slower this year. 

With a report from Warren de Guzman, ABS-CBN News


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