Palace hopeful of Q1 employment rate spike photo Selangor Journal
Job and Employment

Palace hopeful of Q1 employment rate spike

Feb 11, 2022, 6:30 AM
Rose De La Cruz

Rose De La Cruz

Columnist

Despite a full-year (2021) unemployment rate of 7.8 percent or 3.27 million Filipinos without jobs, Malacanang is confident that with the easing of mobility restrictions to its lowest level this March would help create more jobs and get the economy back on track.

WITH unemployment reaching 3.27 million in December or at 7.8 percent for the whole of 2021, Malacanang is hopeful that with the easing of mobility restrictions, the country’s employment rate would rebound during the first quarter of 2022 in the National Capital Region and other parts of the country.

In a briefing following the release of the unemployment figures by the Philippine Statistics Authority, acting presidential spokesman Karlo Nograles said the unemployment rate in December rose to 6.6 percent compared to the previous month’s 6.5 percent.

Back to work

“With the easing [of restrictions] up in February, we expect, bottom line, more of our citizens will be going back to the labor force,” Nograles said.

He said the increase in unemployment rate in December was a sign that more workers were finally returning to the labor market.

Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III attributed the higher labor force participation rate in December to the increased economic activities brought about by the holidays and the Alert Level 2 which was imposed in many parts of the country.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF) hoisted an Alert Level 3 in NCR and other parts of the country last January amid the surge in Covid-19 infections, triggering the closure of more establishments brought about by local spread of the Omicron variant.

It only started downgrading the Alert Levels in areas that included NCR this February as Covid-19 cases kept declining allowing more businesses to resume operations.

Border reopening

Nograles said the reopening of the country to foreign tourists on Thursday will help bring back more workers not only in the tourism sector, but also to other sectors, which depend on it such as food and transportation.

“We will be able to bring economic growth and development since we will be able to revive the tourism industry and all other industries are dependent on it,” Nograles said.

3.7-M jobless

National Statistician Claire Dennis Mapa said the unemployed in 2021 reached 3.7 million Filipino, or 1.4 million more than the 2.26 million recorded in 2019.

There were 7 million underemployed Filipinos in 2021 or 2.8 million more than the 5.8 million recorded in 2019, Business Mirror reported.

“If you look at the pre-Covid situation in 2019, unemployment rate was really low, at 5.1 percent only, so now in 2021 it’s at 7.8 percent which is quite high. In my estimate, we still have to regain between 1.4 and 1.5 million more” Mapa said.

In December 2021, there were 3.27 million unemployed Filipinos, an increase of 110,000 from November’s 3.216 million. This is, however, a decrease of 230,000 from the 3.5 million posted in October 2021.

Underemployment

In terms of underemployment, there was a decrease of about 810,000 to 6.81 million in December 2021 from the 7.62 million recorded in November 2021. There was also a decrease of 230,000 from the 7.04 million posted in October 2021.

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), however, cited the larger increase in the labor force participation rate, which improved to 65.1 percent from 64.2 percent.

NEDA said this meant that around 800,000 more people were able to find work as mobility restrictions were relaxed in December. This brings net employment creation to 3.7 million above pre-pandemic levels.

“By accelerating the vaccination program and safely reopening more sectors of the economy, we were able to generate more and better jobs for the people,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua said.
“We look forward to building on these gains in 2022 now that we have contained the spread of Omicron and have reverted back to alert level 2 in the National Capital Region and several provinces,” he added.

The government’s progress in implementing the 10-point policy of the Economic Development Cluster (EDC) will help bring back more employment opportunities, especially in hard-hit sectors like tourism and education.

Under Inter-Agency Task Force Resolution 159, the Covid-19 risk classification of countries under “green,” “yellow,” and “red” categories was suspended.

Starting February 10, fully vaccinated Filipinos and international tourists from visa-free countries are only required to show a 48-hour negative RT-PCR test result prior to departure from their country of origin.

International arriving passengers who meet these requirements are no longer required to undergo facility-based quarantine to support tourism’s recovery and return tourism-related jobs.

Vaccination expansion

Chua said the expansion of the vaccination program to the pediatric population will help pave the way for resuming face-to-face classes and restore employment in education.

“While employment outcomes are expected to slightly deteriorate in January 2022 due to the higher alert levels, this will only be temporary as we vigorously pursue the implementation of the EDC’s 10-point policy. This will set the stage for our full recovery in 2022,” said Chua.

Low job creation

Ibon Foundation Inc. said that given the latest jobs data released by the PSA that the Duterte administration will leave behind a legacy of having the biggest increase in joblessness among all post-Marcos administrations.

Ibon blamed the administration’s “over-reliance” on lockdowns which hindered the economy’s recovery and prevented the creation of more employment.

Additionally, Ibon said, the government also failed to provide cash assistance for millions of poor households and subsidies for small enterprises and producers grappling through the pandemic and economic crisis.

“The unemployment crisis under Duterte is even more stark when looking at preliminary annual labor force figures and comparing these to previous governments,” Ibon said.

Unemployment records

Comparing December 2021 jobs data to those at the start of the Duterte administration, Ibon noted that the number of unemployed significantly grew by 940,000 from 2.3 million in July 2016 to 3.3 million in December 2021.

The unemployment increase under the Duterte administration from 2016-2021 grew by a huge 1.3 million from 2.4 million in 2016 to 3.7 million in 2021, the biggest among all post-Marcos regimes.

The next biggest rise in unemployment was under the Arroyo administration from 2001-2010 (632,000), followed by Estrada from 1998-2001 (611,000) and Ramos from 1992-1998 (449,000). Under Corazon Aquino from 1986-1992 unemployment grew by 68,000 while under Benigno Aquino III from 2010-2016 it decreased by 261,000.

The group said the least jobs were created under the Duterte administration from 2017-2019 at a 313,338 annual average compared to the other post-Marcos administrations of Arroyo (858,250 jobs were generated), Benigno Aquino III (827,167), Corazon Aquino (810,042), Ramos (489,208); and Estrada (410,750).

“Relatedly, the real wage has fallen at the start of the Duterte administration and is at its lowest since 2014, which is no longer simply due to the long and stringent lockdowns. Pre-pandemic the government was already giving the least number of wage hikes and the smallest amount in the post-Marcos period,” Ibon said.
“To jumpstart real economic recovery, the government needs to understand that it is aggregate demand that most of all has to be boosted especially with substantial cash assistance to poor households and subsidies to production sectors and small businesses,” it added.

Based on the latest data, the average monthly wage of time-rated workers on full-time basis was recorded at P16,486 in 2020, a contraction of 9 percent from the P18,108 posted in 2018.

Tags: #Malacanang, #NEDA-PSA, #unemploymentandunderemployment, #pandemic, #labor


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