SUPPLY chain disruptions prompted over a million Filipinos to opt out of the labor force, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda).
On Friday, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported there were a total of 27.98 million Filipinos who were not in the country’s labor force in April 2022. This represented an increase of 416,700 Filipinos compared to April 2021 and 1.57 million more compared to March 2022.
The PSA also reported that the country’s unemployment and underemployment rate decreased to 5.7 percent and 14 percent, respectively.
“Fewer Filipinos participated in the labor force due to supply chain disruptions brought about by the Russia-Ukraine conflict and seasonal factors in agriculture, among others,” Neda said in a statement.
The labor force participation rate declined to 63.4 percent from 65.4 percent, translating to a net employment loss of 1.3 million between March and April.
Of the 1.3 million net employment loss, 1.1 million were from agriculture while 0.5 million were from services. This was slightly tempered by employment of 0.3 million generated in the industry sector.
“Higher oil prices and seasonal factors have impacted workers in the transport and agriculture sectors, respectively, and hindered some from going to work. To address this, the government will urgently distribute targeted subsidies to the hardest-hit sectors to cushion higher prices,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua said.
In order to help the Filipinos affected by the supply chain disruptions and the losses in agriculture jobs, Chua said the government is rolling out targeted subsidies amounting to P6.1 billion for the transport and agriculture sectors.
This consists of P5 billion worth of fuel vouchers to qualified public utility vehicle drivers and operators who will each receive a P6,500 fuel subsidy under the Pantawid Pasada program.
Meanwhile, Chua said the P1.1 billion will be distributed as fuel discounts to farmers and fisherfolk.
The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) also approved the one-peso provisional fare increase for public utility jeepneys in the National Capital Region, Region 3, and Region 4A to address increasing fuel prices.
Chua added that the Civil Service Commission has allowed government offices to adopt flexible work arrangements, such as four-day work weeks, to help employees save on fuel costs.
Despite external risks, overall employment remains at 3.1 million above the pre-pandemic level as around 80 percent of the economy has been placed under Alert Level 1.
However, Chua reiterated that the country can not reap the full benefits of Alert Level 1 without the full resumption of face-to-face classes.
This is among the strategies cited in Executive Order No. 166, which adopts the Economic Development Cluster’s 10-point-policy agenda to accelerate and sustain economic recovery.
Without the full resumption of face-to-face classes, businesses that cater to students remain closed or operate at reduced capacity. In addition, one-fourth of parents cannot go to work as they need to support and manage their children’s online schooling, thus limiting the income generation of some households.
“The Philippine economy has recovered to its pre-pandemic gross domestic product level this year. We must now focus on accelerating our growth by strengthening our domestic economy and investing in the education and development of our children. This will help secure better employment opportunities for future generations,” Chua said.