MANILA - The Philippines' unemployment rate eased in September but the underemployment rate also climbed, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority said on Tuesday.
The unemployment rate slid to 5 percent in September, which was equivalent to around 2.5 million workers, the PSA said. This was lower than the 5.3 percent jobless rate in August, equivalent to 2.68 million, the PSA said.
September's jobless rate is the lowest since October 2019, the PSA said.
A drop in retail was observed for the period despite the expected seasonal increase in the workforce in malls during the holidays.
National Statistician Dennis Mapa said this could be due to higher costs as those who added to unemployment in the retail sector are mostly self-employed kiosk operators.
"Mga food stalls in supermarkets, groceries even schools, ito yung nabawasan. There’s a possibility... we're looking at the relationship of costs, baka kaya nag decided ang iba na mag-pullout," Mapa said in a briefing.
(Food stalls in supermarkets, groceries and even in schools, showed a decline. We're looking at the relationship of costs that's why they decide to pullout)
Inflation hit 7.7 percent in October, which is the highest in nearly 14 months, largely due to higher food and transport costs.
On a yearly basis, the top sectors with the largest drop in employment include construction, fishing and aquaculture, arts, entertainment and recreation, electricity, gas, steam and air conditionining supply and water supply, among others, data showed.
Underemployment, however, climbed in September to 15.4 percent, which translates to 7.33 million workers who were looking for extra jobs or job hours. This was higher than the 14.7 percent underemployment rate or 7.03 million underemployed workers in August 2021, data showed.
Total employment rate for September slightly improved to 95 percent or equivalent to 47.58 million compared to 94.7 or 47.87 million the previous month, the PSA said.
The dip in the number of employed workers was largely due to the start of classes in September as many young workers opted to go back to school instead of working, Mapa said. He said that this was not statistically significant.
September's employment rate was the "highest recorded rate since January 2020," Mapa added.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said. the increase in employment showed the impact of the full reopening of the economy.
“The government will leverage on this momentum by strengthening policy interventions and investing in innovation and technology systems geared toward generating higher-quality employment that provides adequate income for Filipino workers and their families,” he said.
“With the Philippine Development Plan 2023-2028 nearing its completion, we aim to strategize for a more efficient labor market by improving the quality of education, providing opportunities for life-long learning, skills development and options to obtain micro-credentials, enhancing job facilitation programs, and strengthening linkages among industry, business, and training institutions,” Balisacan added.