THE Philippines recorded a new unemployment low as the country’s jobless rate hit 4.2 percent in October 2023, according to data released by the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda).
Citing data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the Neda said in a statement that the jobless rate was lower than the 4.5 percent posted in October 2022, which was initially declared as the lowest unemployment rate in two decades.
In terms of magnitude, PSA data showed there were 2.09 million unemployed individuals in October 2023, or lower than the 2.24 million recorded in October 2022 and the 2.27 million in July 2023.
“We can make the labor market more inclusive with the entry of more investments, especially those that bring in new and better technology. At the same time, we need to expand and enhance learning opportunities to ensure that we equip Filipinos for future jobs,” Neda Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan said.
The PSA data also showed that the underemployment rate in October 2023 was 11.7 percent, lower than the 14.2 percent recorded in October 2022 and the 15.9 percent posted in July 2023.
The data also showed the labor market recorded an employment rate of 95.8 percent in October 2023, higher than the 95.5 rate posted in the same period last year and the highest since April 2005.
This translates to the number of employed persons aged 15 years and above reaching 47.8 million in October 2023, which is higher compared to the 47.06 million registered in the same period last year.
The Neda also said most employment generated involved middle (+334,000) and high-skill occupations (+897,000). This is primarily due to the expansion in tourism-related and IT-BPO sectors.
“The Barangay and SK elections in October 2023 and the related preparations for which; the end of the ghost month since the second half of September 2023 could have led to some improvement in the employment data,” Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation Chief Economist Michael L. Ricafort said.
Balisacan said the positive trend observed in the country’s labor market will continue after President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. signed Republic Act No. 11966, also known as the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Code, on December 5, 2023.
The landmark legislation strengthens the country’s investment ecosystem by creating a more stable and predictable policy environment for collaboration in high-impact infrastructure projects.
“The passage of the PPP Code is just one of many recent reforms that have made the Philippines more attractive to foreign investors. It provides the government with a more solid ecosystem for investments, which, in turn, generates employment opportunities for Filipino workers in several critical growth areas, including infrastructure,” explained Balisacan.
Across regions, the National Capital Region (NCR) posted the highest unemployment rate of 5.4 percent in October 2023, while Davao Region had the lowest reported unemployment rate of 2.9 percent.
PSA data showed the expansion in the number of unpaid workers and an increase in the number of young workers who believed there was no work available for them.
Based on the data, the total number of unpaid family workers increased to 1.26 million in October 2023 from 1.09 million in October 2023. Nonetheless, it was still lower than the 1.41 million posted in July 2023.
“This was followed by self-employed persons without any paid employee at 27.8 percent and unpaid family workers at 6.5 percent,” PSA said. “Employers in own family-operated farm or business had the lowest share of 2.6 percent.”
However, wage and salary workers still accounted for the largest share of employed persons with 63.1 percent of the total employed persons in October 2023.
Meanwhile, the proportion of youth not in education, employment or training (NEET) in October 2023 increased to 11.7 percent from 11.4 percent in October 2022.
Of the total 6.09 million employed youth, 627,000 were underemployed, translating to a youth underemployment rate of 10.3 percent.
The data also showed that the youth unemployment rate increased to 11.4 percent, from 11.2 percent in October last year.
Image credits: Nonie Reyes