PSA: Unemployment hit 15-year high in 2020

AdChoiceTV News — About 4.5 million Filipinos were unemployed last year, reaching a record 15-year high and reflecting the impact of the pandemic on livelihoods and businesses in the country, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported yesterday.

Preliminary results of the 2020 Annual Estimates of Labor Force Survey showed that the unemployment rate rose to 10.3 percent, accounting for 4.5 million unemployed Filipinos.

“This is the highest recorded annual unemployment rate since April 2005,” national statistician Dennis Mapa said.null

“This reflects the effect of the various community quarantine restrictions, business closures and physical distancing measures that were put in place in the Philippines starting March 2020 amid the pandemic,” the PSA said.

In 2019, unemployment was only at 5.1 percent, it added.

As the government tried to control the spread of the virus last year, it had to impose quarantine restrictions, prompting businesses – both essential and non-essential – to reduce their manpower.

The impact of the pandemic worsened months later with thousands of businesses shutting down, some temporarily and others permanently, and people were ordered to stay home.

Sought for comment, acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Chua echoed the same sentiment, saying the high unemployment rate was due to the pandemic and prolonged quarantine.

“Now, we need to manage risk and safely reopen the economy to address joblessness and hunger,” Chua said.

The country’s labor force population, or those Filipinos aged 15 years and above, rose to 73.733 million in 2020 from 72.143 million in 2019. But the labor force participation rate dipped to 59.5 percent of the total working age population from 61.3 percent in 2019, the PSA said.

This is equivalent to around 43.9 million economically active Filipinos, whether employed or looking for work, it added.

It also means that less Filipinos had work last year, as indicated by the decline in the employment rate to 89.7 percent from 94.9 the previous year. This translated to 39.4 million employed Filipinos.

Among the regions, the highest levels of unemployment last year were in Ilocos, Central Luzon, National Capital Region and Calabarzon.

Among the unemployed, 66 percent belonged to the age group 15 to 34 years old. By gender, there were more unemployed males in 2020 at 63.8 percent than females at 36.2 percent.

By educational attainment, a quarter of those unemployed were college graduates while a quarter completed junior high school.

The underemployment rate, meanwhile, pertaining to the proportion of workers who were looking for more hours of work, went up to 16.1 percent from 13.8 percent in 2019.

Almost half of those considered to be underemployed are engaged in the services sector at 48.2 percent, followed by agriculture at 33.4 percent and industry sector at 18.4 percent.

Workers were grouped into the three sectors, namely, agriculture, industry and services sector. Those in the services sector comprised most of the employed persons, accounting for 56.9 percent share in 2020.

Among the workers in the services sector, those engaged in the wholesale and retail trade, repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles made up the largest proportion of employed persons.

The services sector was followed by agriculture with 24.8 percent share, while the industry sector accounted for the smallest share of 18.3 percent.

Reporting by Albert Rovic Tan

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