Job quality worsens in October despite reduced unemployment

THE LATEST labor data in October showed a mixed picture as the ranks of Filipinos who are jobless and looking for work declined, while those that are already employed but wanting more work increased compared with the previous month.  

The preliminary report of the Philippine Statistics Authority’s (PSA) October round of the labor force survey (LFS) put the unemployment rate at 7.4%, compared with 8.9% in the previous round. It was the lowest jobless rate in three months, or since July 2021’s 6.9%.  

In absolute terms, there were 3.504 million unemployed Filipinos in October, down from 4.255 million in September.  

Meanwhile, the quality of available jobs declined as the underemployed rate – the proportion of those already working but still looking for more work or longer working hours – increased to 16.1% from 14.2% in the previous month, equivalent to 7.044 million Filipinos, from 6.183 million a month ago.  

The underemployment rate in October was the highest since July’s 20.9%. 

The size of the labor force was about 47.330 million in October, down from 47.847 million in September. This brought the labor force participation rate to 62.6% of the working-age population in October from September’s 63.3%. 

The employment rate stood at 92.6% of the labor force in October, down from 91.1% in September. This is equivalent to 43.826 million employed individuals during the period from 43.592 million previously.  

In an online Q&A, the PSA attributed the slight improvements in employment to the easing of granular level lockdowns. However, they reiterated the full effects of the easing of restrictions will be reflected in the November data.  

Services and industry made up 57.6% and 17.8% of total employment in October, respectively, down from 57.8% and 18.7% in September. Meanwhile, agriculture’s share of employment increased to 24.6% from 23.5% a month earlier. — Bernadette Therese M. Gadon