MANILA - The COVID-19 pandemic could leave a lasting impact on employment in the Philippines as job creation has shifted to less stable and lower quality jobs, an official of the Asian Development Bank said Wednesday.
Unemployment ballooned to 17.7 percent in April 2020, during the height of the strictest lockdown or Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) in Luzon imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19, government data showed.
The Philippine Statistics Authority said this improved to 8.7 percent of the labor forcein January, as the economy gradually reopened.
Employment has since returned to pre-pandemic levels, according to Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Chua.
But during a virtual briefing, Asian Development Bank country director for the Philippines said the "composition" between sectors has changed.
"The concern for us is that the employment that’s been generated is in the informal sector. These are generally less stable employment activities," Bird said.
"That’s the concern, lower quality jobs are being created not quality jobs. And we're concerned that with this pandemic there could be scarring effects in this segment," he added.
There is significant growth in jobs in administrative jobs as well as in information and communication due to the shift to work-from-home setup, Bird said.
The largest contraction was seen in the accommodation and food sector as businesses were disrupted by restrictions, he said.
This situation could return to normal once the economy reopens, but it could also "persist," he said.
"There is a massive sectoral reallocation of jobs as the economy recovers, that reallocation will kind of narrow but it could persist over the medium term," he said.
The Philippine government can "strengthen" policies to create more formal jobs, implement skills training and invest in new innovations, Bird said.
Model practices from other countries can also be used to improve the quality of employment in the country, he added.
The Philippine economy could grow at least 4.5 percent this year and 5.5 percent in 2022, according to the Asian Development Outlook 2021.
The economy contracted 9.6 percent in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic curtailed activities.
-- with reports from Jessica Fenol and Warren de Guzman, ABS-CBN News