MANILA (UPDATE) - The Philippines' unemployment rate rose slightly in September compared to August while the underemployment rate dipped, the Philippine Statistics Authority said on Wednesday.
The PSA said the jobless rate was at 4.5 percent in September, slightly higher than the 4.4 percent clip seen in August.
This translated to 2.26 million jobless Filipino workers in September compared to 2.21 million in the preceding month.
The services sector made the biggest gains in jobs added, the PSA said.
PSA data showed that accommodation and food service activities added 608,000 jobs during the month; followed by administrative and support service activities which added 535,000; and construction which added 481,000.
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Manufacturing meanwhile led the sectors with the largest job losses at 888,000 jobs lost. It was followed by wholesale and retail trade, repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles which lost 722,000 jobs. Agriculture and forestry also lost 649,000 jobs.
Broken down by occupation, the following jobs had the largest increase in employment: craft and related trade workers (275,000), professionals (261,000), clerical support workers (106,000), and plant and machine operators and assemblers (73,000).
The following occupations, meanwhile, had the biggest drop in employment: elementary occupations (322,000), service and sales workers (209,000), and skilled agricultural, forestry, and fishery workers (98,000).
National Statistician Claire Dennis Mapa said the decreasing number of Filipinos in elementary occupations is a good indicator that the quality of jobs is improving in the Philippines.
"Parang nagkaroon ng changes doon sa category ng, yung class of workers. Ang malaking increase in terms of class of workers ay actually yung salary and wages. There was an increase of 1.25 million," he said.
"Now if we further classify yung salary and wages workers, ang malaki rito, actually galing sa private establishments," he added.
(There was a change in the category, the class of workers. We saw a huge increase--about 1.25 million--in the number of salary workers. Now if we further look at the classification of salary and wage workers, most of them are from private establishments.)
"So the shift in terms of the class of workers moving to salary and wages is a good sign."
Mapa also said the decrease in underemployment is also a sign of improving job quality in the Philippines.
The underemployment rate meanwhile was slightly lower in September at 10.7 percent or 5.11 million compared to 11.7 percent or 5.63 million in August.
Broken down by industry, the biggest contributors to the drop in underemployment were: agriculture and forestry (692,000), wholesale and retail trade (542,000), and manufacturing (280,000), according to Mapa.
"Nag-shift itong sa class of workers ano, dumami yung wages and salary, so usually yun naman yung parang full-time. At bumawas naman yung...in particular yung unpaid family workers na usually doon ang substantial."
(There was a shift in the class of workers--usually those who are wage and salary workers are working full time. We also saw a decrease in the number of unpaid family workers, who usually make up a substantial portion of the underemployed.)
The youth employment rate also dropped to 86.9 percent in September from 88.5 percent in the same period last year and 87.8 percent in August 2023, the PSA said.
Underemployment among young workers meanwhile dipped to 9.1 percent which was lower than the reported youth underemployment rate of 12.4 percent in September 2022 and 9.7 percent rate in August 2023.
Job creation is the third most urgent concern among Filipinos, according to a recent study by Pulse Asia.
Almost half of Filipino families also consider themselves poor according to a survey by the Social Weather Stations.
Mapa said he hopes to see more Filipinos employed in retail trade as the Christmas season draws nearer.
"Isa sa pinakamalaking sector natin kasi, subsector (ang) retail trade. Ito yung mga bazaars, sa mga department stores."
"Nakita na natin for example di ba. You have increasing hours, so may mga additional workers sila usually na hina-hi under the category ng seasonal, short-term, contractual. We have seen them in the past years and we expect that in the coming 4th quarter," he explained.
For its part, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said it will continue to pursue high-quality jobs for Filipinos.
"We will continue to pursue enhancements to existing policies to address concerns in investments, particularly in infrastructure development in areas outside the National Capital Region,” said NEDA Secretary Arsenio Balisacan.
The economic manager also said digitalization and promoting innovation in business--especially in micro, small, and medium enterprises--will open up more opportunities for high-quality and high-paying jobs for Filipinos.
“This will be supported by expanding training and re-skilling programs for workers to meet the needs of these innovative businesses,” Balisacan said.