The number of Filipinos without jobs in October dropped compared to the previous month as the country’s economy slowly reopened under less restrictive coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) curbs.
At 7.4 percent, the October unemployment rate was significantly lower than the 8.9 percent in September 2021 — ranking third lowest for the year, following the 6.9 percent in July and 7.1 percent in March 2021.
“In terms of magnitude, the total number of unemployed persons 15 years old and over in October 2021 was registered at 3.5 million. It was lower by 309,000 from the total unemployed persons reported in October 2020 (3.81 million),” the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said.
On the other hand, the employment rate of 92.6 percent translates to 43.83 million Pinoys with jobs versus the listed 39.84 million employed in the same comparable period.
Underemployment — the number of employed persons who either want extra working hours or extra work — registered at 16.1 percent in October compared to 14.2 percent in September.
The state’s economic managers issued a joint statement on the latest jobs data, saying the government’s strategies have proven to be correct even as they expressed optimism of an early recovery from the pandemic downturn.
“The October 2021 Labor Force Survey results affirmed the soundness of the government’s push to safely reopen the economy, restore employment, and manage the spread of Covid-19. As we relaxed restrictions to Alert Level 2, more people were able to work while Covid-19 positivity, case fatality, and bed occupancy rates continued to improve,” their statement read.
“Sustaining these gains will allow us to recover to the pre-pandemic level in early 2022, a year ahead of the government’s initial estimates,” they added.
Likewise, they credited the close coordination between the private sector and the government, especially on the massive inoculation drive against the virus for Filipinos.
Shifting the country from pandemic to an endemic paradigm — which entails a 10-point policy agenda will help accelerate the expected economic recovery, they explained.
The 10-point policy agenda covers metrics, vaccination, healthcare capacity, economy and mobility, schooling, domestic travel, digital transformations, pandemic flexibility bill as well as the medium-term preparation for pandemic resilience.
“Backed by a stronger healthcare system, we will solidify our recovery by reopening the economy to Alert Level 1 in January 2022. At the same time, to avert long-term productivity losses and restore more employment, we will resume face-to-face schooling in January 2022, increase public transport capacity for all transport types to 100 percent, and relax restrictions for domestic and international travel,” they stressed.
“We will not, however, simply return to business as usual. We will restore our path towards a more sustainable growth against future crises by enacting pending economic liberalization and digital transformation bills to improve telecommunications services and attract more foreign direct investment,” they added.
Meanwhile, the rise in the prices of local goods and services slowed in November to 4.2 percent from 4.6 percent a month ago, the PSA said.
Despite the slower inflation, the latest figure still sits above the government’s 2 to 4 percent target for the year.
National Statistician Claire Dennis Mapa said the number was brought about by the slowdown in the inflation for the heavily-weighted food and non-alcoholic beverages index, which slid to 3.9 percent in November from the 5.3 percent in October.
Lower inflation was also recorded in the indices of alcoholic beverages and tobacco (7.5 from 9.8 percent) as well as furnishing, household equipment and routine maintenance of the house (2.4 from 2.5 percent), he said.
Still, the PSA chief said the latest figures kept the year-to-date inflation average at 4.5 percent.
Inflation in the National Capital Region (NCR) slowed to 2.9 percent in November from the recorded 3.2 percent in October owing primarily to lower inflation in food and non-alcoholic beverages (1.7 from 3.4 percent).
Likewise, inflation in areas outside NCR slowed to 4.5 percent from the listed 5 percent in the same comparable period owing to the observed slowdown in the cost of similar indices.
The National Economic and Development Authority said the lower inflation reflects a sustained deceleration for the third straight month amid the impact of the government’s imposed measures to curb food prices.