4.25 million Filipinos jobless as unemployment hits 8.9 percent in September: PSA

Warren De Guzman and Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 04 2021 09:29 AM | Updated as of Nov 04 2021 07:24 PM

Passengers flock to the Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX) to catch buses headed to southern Luzon provinces on October 29, 2021. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File
Passengers flock to the Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX) to catch buses headed to southern Luzon provinces on October 29, 2021. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA - Unemployment in the Philippines further accelerated in September, according to the latest Labor Force Survey released Thursday by the Philippine Statistics Authority.

Unemployment was at 8.9 percent in September, equivalent to 4.25 million jobless Filipinos, compared to 8.1 percent in August.

National Statistician Dennis Mapa said this is the highest unemployment rate for the year but it could be seasonal due to the drop in agriculture jobs in time for the harvest season as well as weather disturbances.

Despite the rise in unemployment for the month, employment prospects "remain promising" due to the shift to granular lockdowns, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Chua said in a statement. 

Granular lockdowns, instead of shutting down borders of entire cities and provinces, have allowed more businesses to reopen. 

A "better labor outcome" can be expected in October, he said.

“Overall, the economy has generated 1.1 million employment above the pre-pandemic level. This signals the Philippines’ continuing recovery. We look forward to the expansion of the alert level and granular lockdown system to the whole country to recover more jobs and livelihoods,” Chua said.

Underemployment for the month totaled 6.18 million or slightly lower compared to the 6.48 million the previous month, the PSA said. 

The overall employment rate for September reached 91.91 percent, compared to 91.9 percent in August, the agency said. 

Total employed for the month is 43.59 million, which is lower compared to the 44.23 million total in August, it added.

Based on the survey, a bigger percentage of employees worked full time in September compared to August.

The Department of Labor and Employment called the survey results a "temporary setback towards a continued and sustained recovery of the labor market."

"These setbacks in the numbers may be attributed to the stringent quarantine rules back in September, aggravated by lesser activities in agriculture due to inclement weather, and the start of academic year – all of which affected the labor force," it said in a statement.

DOLE said it anticipates "brighter days ahead for the labor market," noting the reported decline in daily COVID-19 cases in the Philippines, the country's "increasing vaccine coverage, and the safe reopening of more businesses" which is expected to employ more people, given the demand of the coming Christmas season.

Although the pandemic is seen to cost P41.4 trillion in the next 40 years, the economy could gain P3.6 billion weekly and reduce unemployment by 16,000 if mobility restriction in Metro Manila is lowered to Alert Level 2, estimates from the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) showed.

Metro Manila remains under Alert Level 3 until Nov. 14 but businesses have been lobbying for the easing of restrictions to increase operational capacity and generate more jobs in time for the holidays.

DOLE called on workers and businesses to participate in the vaccination program and continue the observance of minimum public health standards and occupational safety and health policies.

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