Unemployment rises in April

THE RANKS of unemployed Filipinos increased in April, around the time when the government tightened lockdown restrictions in Metro Manila and nearby provinces due to a surge in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases, the government’s latest jobs data show.

Preliminary results of the Philippine Statistics Authority’s April 2021 round of the Labor Force Survey (LFS) released earlier this morning showed an unemployment rate of 8.7%. This was higher than the 7.1% reported in March.

To recall, Metro Manila, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal were placed under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) from March 29 to April 11 amid a surge in COVID-19 cases. This was later relaxed to a more lenient modified ECQ from April 12 to 30.

Nevertheless, this was lower than the 17.6% jobless rate in April 2020 — a month into the first implementation of lockdowns in Luzon at the onset of the pandemic.

In absolute terms, there were 4.138 million unemployed Filipinos in April versus the 3.441 million in March and 7.228 million in April 2020.

The underemployment rate — the proportion of those already working but still looking for more work or longer working hours — worsened to 17.2% in April from 16.2% in March. This translated to 7.453 million underemployed Filipinos, more than the 7.335 million in the previous month’s survey.

The latest figure was lower than April 2020’s 18.9% underemployment rate, albeit there were fewer underemployed Filipinos (6.398 million) as many have left the labor force that time.

The size of the labor force was about 47.407 million in April, down from 48.772 million in March. This brought the labor force participation rate to 63.2% of the working-age population in April from 65% the previous month.

The employment rate — the proportion of the employed to the total labor force — stood at 91.3% in April, down from 92.9% in March. This is equivalent to 43.269 million Filipinos in April compared with 45.332 million in March. — Lourdes O. Pilar