Philippine lockdowns reverse gains in employment

The Department of Finance (DOF) has said gains in employment cannot be sustained if strict lockdowns are repeatedly being imposed.
By: | May 19, 2021

Although the unemployment rate fell to 7.1% in March from 8.8% one month earlier, the gains in the number of jobs would likely see a drop after a strict lockdown was imposed in the National Capital Region and four provinces from March 29 to May 14.  

The DOF cited data from the March Labour Force Survey (LFS) of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), which showed the country’s unemployment falling to its lowest level in March since the beginning of the pandemic last year. 

However, it is expected that this level cannot be sustained as the LFS was conducted before the reimposition of the strict lockdowns from late March.  

Finance Undersecretary and chief economist Gil Beltran said, “The employment numbers are encouraging and we still have to do more to bring down both the unemployment and underemployment rates. It is imperative, therefore, that the health risks posed by the epidemic be managed effectively and efficiently and its transmission arrested.” 

According to the LFS, there were 3.44 million Filipinos who were unemployed in March compared to the 4.20 million in February. 

READ: Philippine senator seeks to get seniors to be digital-ready for WFH

The survey also showed that the labour force participation rate, or those aged 15 years and above, improved to 65.0% of the total working age population from 63.5%. This was equivalent to 48.77 million economically active Filipinos, whether employed or looking for work.

This brought the total employment rate to 92.9%, translating to 45.33 million employed Filipinos as more jobs were created in the agriculture and industry sectors, according to Philstar Global.