(File photo)

MANILA – The latest unemployment data shows that the country’s path to economic recovery remains rough amid the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, the country's top trade official said on Thursday.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported Thursday that the unemployment rate rose to 8.1 percent in August 2021 after recording a 6.9-percent unemployment rate in July 2021, the lowest since the onset of the pandemic.

“It just shows that the recovery path is not going to be a smooth one. Yes, there are sectors recovering but some are highly sensitive to the community quarantine classification especially if (it is) ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) or MECQ (modified ECQ) or Levels 5 or 4 are declared,” Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez said told reporters.

More businesses were shut down in ECQ and MECQ classification or Levels 5 and 4 under the new alert level system protocol.

In August, Metro Manila was reverted to ECQ early and is currently under Alert Level 4.

“These can lead to job loses as seen in the recent labor force survey,” Lopez pointed out.

He added that DTI is proposing to allow businesses to operate in all alert levels and only adjust the operating capacities for each level to ensure business continuity and avoid job losses.

The trade chief also backed the recommendation of the business sector to increase capacity for indoor and outdoor dine-in and personal care services under Alert Level 4.

Lopez said the DTI is considering raising indoor dine-in and personal care services to up to 30 percent from the current 10 percent but maintaining these services for vaccinated individuals only.

For outdoor economic activities, he said DTI is pushing for hiking the allowed operating capacity from 30 percent to 50 percent, regardless of vaccine status.

“So the good approach is to have continuity in operations and jobs, regardless of alert levels,” Lopez said. (PNA)