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Unemployment hits 8.7%

Joshua Lao



The number of jobless Filipinos improved in October, settling at just 8.7 percent in October 2020 from the posted 10 percent in July 2020, according to the latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). 

National Statistician Claire Dennis Mapa said that this latest figure translates to about 3.8 million unemployed Filipinos, better than the 4.6 million jobless in the same comparable period. 

Still, the PSA chief said that the latest unemployment figure brings the full year unemployment average at 10.4 percent, notably higher than the 5.05 percent average in 2019. 

By region, the National Capital Region recorded the highest unemployment rate with 12.4 percent while the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao registered the lowest with 3.4 percent. 

Arts, entertainment and recreation posted the sharpest drop among major industries with a 38.2 percent contraction followed by accommodation and food service with minus 33.2 percent and real estate with minus 25.7 percent. 

Transportation and manufacturing likewise declined by 18.9 percent and 17 percent respectively. 

Among the reasons for being unemployed cited by the surveyed participants were the imposed quarantine measures by the government and health or medical limitations. 

Recovery seen

While at it, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said that the latest unemployment rate signifies further economic recovery as the government gradually allows businesses to resume their operations. 

Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua however, said that October’s numbers could have been better should the restrictions were eased further.  

“This improvement in the unemployment rate was driven by the reopening of the economy and it could have been lower if the economy were opened further, coupled with the provision of safe and sufficient public transport,” Chua explained. 

According to him, the recent succession of weather disturbances resulted to a significant employment loss in the agriculture sector, pulling employment numbers, which could have been better. 

Agriculture employment was reduced by 1.1 million in October, the NEDA chief said, almost two-thirds of the jobs lost between July and October 2020. 

The Cabinet official likewise recognized the better underemployment rate, which improved to 14.4 percent in October 2020 from the posted 17.3 percent in July 2020. 

“Decreasing underemployment rate means that the quality of jobs is improving. This proximity to normalcy means that the informal sector is performing and the impact on poverty may be less severe than initially estimated,” he explained.