MANILA - The Philippine unemployment averaged 10.4 percent in 2020, the worst year of joblessness on record based on data going back to 2005.
National Statistician, Undersecretary Dennis Mapa says “the 10.4 percent annual average unemployment rate for 2020 is the highest since 2005. The 10.4 percent would more or less translate to about 4.5 million unemployed.”
Philippine unemployment hit 8.7 percent in October 2020, which means about 3.8 million Filipinos were without jobs between October 8 and October 31 when the October Labor Force Survey was conducted.
That is an increase of 1.8 million from the 2 million unemployed Filipinos registered in October 2019, when the unemployment rate was at 4.6 percent.
The October, 2019 unemployment rate was in fact the lowest on record, again based on data going back to 2005 when the definitions of employment were last changed by the government.
Unemployment averaged 5.1 percent in 2019, also the lowest since 2005.
It took just one year for the COVID-19 pandemic to undo the Philippines’ best year in terms of limiting joblessness.
The National Capital Region had the highest unemployment rate at 12.4 percent. The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao had the lowest rate at 3.4 percent.
The silver lining, only four regions saw their unemployment rate increase compared to the last survey in July 2020. They were Region 1, MIMAROPA, Region 9, and CARAGA. The rest improved.
The labor force participation for the year is also at its lowest level in at least a decade and a half. The labor force participation rate measures the total number of workers and job seekers versus the total population of Filipinos available to participate, aged 15 years and above.
CARAGA, which as mentioned was one of the four regions which saw an increase in unemployment in October from July, had the highest labor force participation rate in the Philippines at 63.8 percent.
That means Filipinos there have not given up on work, and that may be contributing to higher unemployment.
Zamboanga Peninsula, or Region 9, had the lowest participation rate at 55.7 percent. This region was also one of the four regions to see an increase in unemployment in October from July.
The two data points combined show unemployment is rising even as more Filipinos give up on looking for work in Zamboanga Peninsula.
All regions in the Philippines saw their labor force participation rate decrease during the period, making the October 2020 Labor Force Participation Rate the second lowest on record. The lowest was hit in April 2020.
Mapa says “pwedeng may nawalan ng trabaho, nawalan sila ng hope to get a job. That is why they don’t participate in the labor force.”
Mapa says it is also possible that some workers opted to go into education, to reskill so they might find work in new industries.
There is a portion of the labor force however that is not opting for education or training, at least not at the same rate as previous periods. The Youth NEET or youths not in education, employment or training rate is very high, at over 20 percent in October 2020.
Mapa says “so may significant impact ito, mas nababawasan yung potential na 15 to 24 that would join the labor force.”
The underemployment rate, or percentage of Filipinos who are working but are interested in finding more work, hit 14.4 percent in October 2020.
That translates to 5.7 million Filipinos who want more work hours, or better work opportunities than what they currently have.
This is an improvement from July, but it is still higher year-on-year.
The top sectors generating the highest job growth year on year for October were water and waste management, fishing, education, information and communication, administrative and support services, and health and social work.
The top sectors with the biggest drop in employment year on year for October were arts, entertainment and recreation, food services and accommodation, real estate, transportation and storage, and manufacturing.