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January unemployment rate rises to 4.8%

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The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) yesterday reported the unemployment rate in January 2023 rose to 4.8 percent from 4.3 percent the previous month.

In a press conference, PSA Undersecretary Dennis Mapa said there were 2.37 million Filipinos aged 15 years old and above who did not have jobs during the month.

PSA data showed there is an increase of 150,000 in the number of unemployed Filipinos between December 2022 and January 2023. Unemployment number in December last year stood at 2.22 million.

Mapa said the higher unemployment rate at the start of the year is expected due to the increase of holiday-related jobs during the fourth quarter of the year.

He cited sectors that had the largest job shedding in between December 2022 and January 2023. These include agriculture and forestry, down by 1.11 million; wholesale and retail trade, repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles, down by 375,000; construction, down by 288,000; other service activities, down by 255,000; and administrative and support activities, down by 215,000.

Mapa said wholesale and retail trade, repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles and other service activities are related to holiday jobs.

Labor force participation rate in January this year stood at 64.5 percent. This means 49.72 million Filipinos are in the labor force. Of the population in the labor force, 47.35 million or 95.2 percent have jobs in January.

Underemployment rate increased to 14.1 percent in the same month.

Despite the month-on-month increase in unemployment rate in January this year, Mapa said the country’s job market has been improving and has already gotten back to pre-pandemic level since the middle of 2022.

Compared to January last year, the unemployment rate has improved from 5.4 percent.

“Our employment rate is getting back to pre-pandemic level since July (2022), and the indicators are getting better. We are seeing the same pattern in the months to come,” Mapa said in mixed English and Filipino.

He added that with the ongoing trend, the unemployment rate is expected to remain between 4 to 5 percent this year.

 “The latest employment indicators show the robust recovery and growth of our labor market from its slump in January 2022 when the surge in Omicron cases prompted stringent mobility and capacity restrictions,” National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said in a statement.

He said higher quality of jobs should be generated to continue the improving trend in the job market.

“We note that employment created year-on-year were mostly part-time and classified as vulnerable. Thus, it is imperative that labor market policies and programs that directly contribute to labor productivity and employment generation must be prioritized, not only to preserve jobs but also to generate quality jobs,” Balisacan said.*PNA

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