MANILA – The Philippine labor market sustained its positive momentum with unemployment rate dropping to new record-low since the onset of the pandemic, while the government remains committed to improving the quality of employment to address underemployment in the country, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

The Philippine Statistics Authority reported Tuesday that with the vibrant resumption of economic activities, an additional 2.2 million Filipinos joined the workforce, raising the country’s labor force participation rate to 65.2 percent in September 2022 from 63.3 percent year-on-year.

Accordingly, this accelerated the employment rate to 95 percent in September 2022, the highest recorded rate since January 2020. The significant de-escalation of community quarantine restrictions translates to an employment creation of 4.0 million year-on-year, bringing the total employment to 47.6 million in September 2022.

The country’s unemployment rate significantly declined to 5.0 percent in September 2022 from 8.9 percent in the same period last year.

This translates to 1.8 million fewer unemployed individuals. It remains largely at par with major Asian economies and is lower compared to that of India, Indonesia, and China.

“The recent survey results show the gains of the full reopening of our economy. The government will leverage on this momentum by strengthening policy interventions and investing in innovation and technology systems geared toward generating higher-quality employment that provides adequate income for Filipino workers and their families,” NEDA Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said.

Employment growth was observed across all sectors with the services sector accounting for 2.8 million more employed individuals, followed by the industry and agriculture sectors that registered an additional 682,000 and 461,000 additional employment, respectively.

However, the underemployment rate worsened to 15.4 percent from 14.2 percent in September 2021, as more than 882,000 individuals sought to earn additional income with the spike in commodity prices due to inflation.

“Ensuring food security remains as our top priority. In the immediate term, government is providing targeted cash transfer as well as fuel and crop subsidies to help protect the purchasing power of Filipinos and reduce the incidence of invisible underemployment among low-income households,” Balisacan said.

Balisacan also highlighted the need for effective implementation of emergency employment programs and other forms of assistance to immediately assist those who were hard-hit by the calamities.

“As we are expecting La Niña and near to above-normal rainfall conditions in the coming months, we need to boost our disaster resilience and climate adaptation measures,” he said.

Further, NEDA cited the crucial role of the timely passage of the fiscal year (FY) 2023 budget and expediting the FY 2022 budget implementation in accelerating recovery and mitigating impact of external risks, particularly the job-generating infrastructure projects.

“With the Philippine Development Plan 2023-2028 nearing its completion, we aim to strategize for a more efficient labor market by improving the quality of education, providing opportunities for life-long learning, skills development and options to obtain micro-credentials, enhancing job facilitation programs, and strengthening linkages among industry, business, and training institutions,” Balisacan added. (PR)