The number of unemployed soared to 3.95 million in January, results of the latest Labor Force Survey (LFS) showed.
The January figure was slightly higher than the 3.8 million recorded in October and 65 percent higher than the 2.39 million recorded in January last year.
This means 1.56 million Filipinos were added to the jobless pool in a year.
Economic managers, however, said they continue to see signs of recovery amid the further reopening of the economy.
The unemployment rate in January stood at 8.7 percent, the same as the jobless rate in October 2020 but higher than the 5.3 percent recorded in January last year.
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the unemployment rate is the lowest since April 2020, when the country was placed to the strictest level of lockdowns as part of COVID-19 measures.
In comparison to all the January rounds of the LFS in the previous years, the jobless rate is the highest since 2006, the PSA said.
The PSA said unemployment rates in seven regions were higher than the national estimate in January 2021 with Calabarzon and Bicol Region, reporting double-digit unemployment rates of 13.1 percent and 11.3 percent, respectively.
“While the unemployment rate remains unchanged at 8.7 percent, more opportunities from the easing of restrictions meant that more people are rejoining the labor force. Between October 2020 and January 2021, some 1.4 million jobs were restored as the labor force participation rate, or the proportion of the working age population that is either working or actively looking for work, increased from 58.7 percent to 60.5 percent over that three-month period,” read a joint statement released yesterday by Karl Kendrick Chua, acting socioeconomic planning secretary; Carlos Dominguez, finance secretary; and Wendel Avisado, budget secretary.
“The results of the January LFS are promising as it tells us that we are on track to getting back most of the jobs we have lost due to COVID-19 and the quarantines,” they added.
The employment rate in January 2021 stood at 91.3 percent, which is the same as the October 2020 rate, the PSA said. This means 41.2 million Filipinos were employed out of 45.2 million Filipinos in the labor force in January 2021. This estimated rate is lower than the reported 94.7 percent in January 2020.
The PSA also reported underemployed persons – or employed persons who expressed their desire to have additional hours of work in their present job or to have additional job, or to have a new job with longer hours of work – rose to 6.59 million in January, from 5.75 million in October and 6.3 million in January last year.
The underemployment rate also jumped to 16 percent, from 14.4 percent and 14.8 percent in October and January 2020, respectively.
The economic team said the biggest improvement is seen in the National Capital Region (NCR) where some 269,000 jobs were restored.
“As the economy was further reopened, the unemployment rate decreased from 12.4 percent in October 2020 to 8.8 percent in January 2021. The underemployment rate dropped from 11.1 percent to 8.2 percent in the same period,” they said.
Outside of NCR, unemployment increased from 8.2 percent in October 2020 to 8.7 percent in January 2021. The underemployment rate also increased from 14.9 percent to 17.1 percent in the same period.
“These can be attributed to the loss of jobs and reduction in income from weather disturbances and flooding, outbreak of the African swine fever that badly affected livestock production and continued mobility restrictions that affected travel and domestic tourism especially around the holiday season when people in the provinces typically have additional income opportunities,” the economic managers said.