MANILA – The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) welcomed the improvements in the country's labor market, as the unemployment rate settled at 5 percent in September, the lowest since the onset of the pandemic.

"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," Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said in a statement Tuesday.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported that the unemployment rate in September 2022 fell from 5.3 percent in August.

PSA Undersecretary Dennis Mapa also noted that the September 2022 unemployment rate is the lowest since the number of jobless Filipinos peaked at 17.6 percent in April 2020, the height of the pandemic.

Amid the challenges brought by a faster inflation rate, Balisacan said the government is prioritizing interventions that would ensure food security, as well as targeted subsidies, such as fuel and crops, "to help protect the purchasing power of Filipinos and reduce the incidence of invisible underemployment among low-income households."

The NEDA chief likewise emphasized the need to continue emergency employment programs and other forms of aid to immediately assist those who were badly affected by 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.

Balisacan added that the timely passage of the 2023 national budget would allow the administration to be on track in implementing its programs next year, especially the job-generating infrastructure projects.

He added that the new economic blueprint would help the country create high-quality jobs for Filipinos in the near and medium term.

"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 said.

More skills training initiatives

Meanwhile, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said the government continues to provide trainings and other initiatives that will help upgrade the skills of workers.

“Skills training and skills upgrading thru Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) are strategies and interventions that we do to help address underemployment,” said Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma in a message to reporters.

The labor chief's remarks came after the PSA also reported that the country's underemployment rate stands at 15.4 percent or equivalent to 7.33 million Filipinos, higher than August's 14.7 percent.

"Effective job facilitation and accurate and reliable labor market information are part of DOLE initiatives that can likewise be of help," he added. (with Ferdinand Patinio/PNA)