Unemployment rate eases in July

The country’s unemployment rate dropped to its lowest level in more than two years, the Philippine Statistics Authority reported on Thursday morning.

Preliminary data from the statistics agency showed the unemployment rate at 5.2% in July, easing from the jobless rate of 6% in June and 7.2% in July last year.

It was the lowest share of the unemployed Filipinos to the total labor force under the monthly labor force survey since January 2021. Including the quarterly surveys, July’s unemployment rate was the smallest since 4.5% in October 2019.

This translated to 2.602 million jobless Filipinos in July, down by 388,000 from June. It also declined by 627,000 from year-ago level of 3.229 million.

Meanwhile, job quality deteriorated as the underemployment rate rose to 13.8% in July from 12.6% in June. However, this was lower than 21% in July last year.

This was the highest underemployment rate in two months, or since May’s 14.5%.

In absolute terms, the ranks of Filipinos already working but still looking for more work or longer working hours to the total employed population increased by 655,000 month on month to 6.543 million in July. But this was lower by 2.226 million from 8.769 million underemployed Filipinos in July last year.

The size of the labor force in July was estimated at 49.994 million in July, up by 412,000 from 49.581 million in June. This brought the labor force participation rate (LFPR) to 65.2% of the country’s working-age population in July, inching up from 64.8% the previous month.

In the seven months to July, the unemployment rate averaged 5.9%, lower than 8.0% in the same period last year.

The underemployment rate also improved, averaging 14.2% in the seven months to July, from 16.4% a year ago.The employment rate in the January to July period stood at 94.1%, from 92% last year, while the LFPR slightly increased to 63.9% during the same period from 63.0%.

New entrants to the labor force reached 1.289 million in July, larger than 980,619 recorded in June.

The employment rate reached 94.8% in July from 94.0% in June. This translated to 47.391 million employed Filipinos in July from 46.592 million the previous month.

Services sector remained the top employer in July after recording an employment rate of 58.8%, increasing from 56.5% in June.

However, employment rate in agriculture and industry eased to 23.5% in July (from 24.5% in June) and 17.7% (from 19%), respectively.

On average, an employed Filipino worked 40.5 hours a week in July, slightly increasing from the 40.3 hours logged the previous month, but lower than the 41.7 hours in July last year. — Ana Olivia A. Tirona