More Filipinos unemployed in January

THE RANKS of jobless Filipinos and those employed but wanting more work increased in January, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported earlier this morning.

Preliminary results of PSA’s January 2021 round of the Labor Force Survey (LFS) showed around 3.953 million unemployed Filipinos, up from 3.813 million in October 2020 and 2.391 million in January 2020.

This puts the unemployment rate at 8.7% in January, unchanged from October 2020 but higher than 5.3% in January 2020.

The January 2021 reading was the highest among January LFS rounds since the government adopted new definitions for the survey in 2005.

Likewise, the underemployment rate –  the proportion of those already working, but still looking for more work or longer working hours – worsened to 16% from 14.4% in October and 14.8% in January 2020. This translates to 6.589 million underemployed Filipinos, up from 5.747 million in the preceding survey round and 6.299 million last year.


Among the January rounds of the LFS, the latest underemployment rate was the highest since the 18% logged in January 2018.

The size of the labor force was approximately 45.201 million out of the 74.733 million Filipinos aged at least 15 years old, yielding a labor force participation rate of 60.5%. This was higher compared with 58.7% in October 2020, but lower compared with 61.7% in January 2020.

The employment rate — the proportion of the employed to the total force — was 91.3% in January 2021, unchanged from October 2020 but lower than 94.7% in January 2020. This is equivalent to approximately 41.248 million Filipinos, up from 39.836 million in October 2020, but down from 42.543 million last year.

The employment rate in the services sector decreased to 57.2% in January from 58.6% in the same survey round last year.

Agriculture climbed to 24.4% from 22.6%, while the industry sector slid to 18.4% from 18.8%.

The LFS, which is conducted quarterly by the PSA in previous years, will now be published on a monthly basis this year to closely monitor the current job situation in the country amid the coronavirus pandemic. — Marissa Mae M. Ramos