National Statistician and Civil Registrar General Dennis Mapa (Screenshot from PSA Facebook page)

MANILA – The country logged its second-lowest unemployment rate in May 2021 amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported Thursday.

In a press conference, National Statistician and Civil Registrar General Dennis Mapa said the unemployment rate in May 2021 was at 7.7 percent easing from 8.7 percent in April 2021 and slightly above the lowest unemployment rate during the pandemic in March 2021 at 7.1 percent.

“This is due to lesser restriction. Of course, we saw in the National Capital Region (NCR) we have lesser restriction in May compared to April 2021,” Mapa said.

The NCR and its four neighboring provinces Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal, collectively called NCR Plus, were under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), the most stringent quarantine measure, in April when there was a surge in coronavirus cases. Restrictions in the NCR Plus started to relax in May.

In May, 410,000 jobs were added to the labor market since ECQ was lifted, Mapa said.

Labor force participation also increased in the NCR, Region 3 (Central Luzon), and Region 4A (Calabarzon), which are part of the NCR Plus.

He said there are five major industries with the largest increase in employment in May. These are (1) wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles, (2) agriculture and forestry, (3) public administration and defense; compulsory social security, (4) construction, and (5) other services activities.

For the same month, the largest job shedding was noticed in sectors of fishing and aquaculture; administrative and support services; mining and quarrying; professional, scientific, and technical activities; and electricity, gas, steam, and air conditioning supply.

Mapa said community quarantine restrictions would continue to pose risks in the labor market.

“Like what we’ve seen in April when we had a very strict level of restrictions in National Capital Region and neighboring provinces, we’ve seen the increase in our unemployment rate. So that’s the risk, the restriction would have impact on the welfare of the workers,” he added.

Mapa said the underemployment rate in May at 12.3 percent is closer to pre-pandemic level.

The underemployment rate in 2019 was around the 13-percent level, while the underemployment rate in 2020 reached a high of 18.9 percent recorded in April.

“What we are seeing is there’s a substantial number of persons that had full-time jobs, those working 40 hours a week,” Mapa added. (PNA)