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May unemployment rate second lowest during pandemic

The country logged its second-lowest unemployment rate in May 2021 amid the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic, the Philippine Statistics Authority said yesterday.

In a press conference, National Statistician and Civil Registrar General Dennis Mapa said the unemployment rate in May 2021 was at 7.7 percent, easing from 8.7 percent in April 2021 and slightly above the lowest unemployment rate during the pandemic in March 2021 at 7.1 percent.

“This is due to lesser restriction. Of course, we saw in the National Capital Region we have lesser restriction in May compared to April 2021,” Mapa said.

The NCR and its four neighboring provinces Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal, collectively called NCR Plus, were under enhanced community quarantine, the most stringent quarantine measure, in April when there was a surge in coronavirus cases. Restrictions in the NCR Plus started to relax in May.

In May, 410,000 jobs were added to the labor market since ECQ was lifted, Mapa said.

Labor force participation also increased in the NCR, Region 3 or Central Luzon, and Region 4A or Calabarzon, which are part of the NCR Plus.

He said several major industries had the largest increase in employment in May. These were in wholesale and retail trade, repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles, agriculture and forestry, public administration and defense, compulsory social security, construction, and other services activities.

For the same month, the largest job shedding was noticed in sectors of fishing and aquaculture, administrative and support services, mining and quarrying, professional, scientific, and technical activities, and electricity, gas, steam, and air conditioning supply.

Mapa said community quarantine restrictions would continue to pose risks in the labor market.

He added the underemployment rate in May at 12.3 percent was closer to pre-pandemic level.

The underemployment rate in 2019 was around the 13-percent level, while the underemployment rate in 2020 reached a high of 18.9 percent and was recorded in April.

“What we are seeing is a substantial number of persons that had full-time jobs, those working 40 hours a week,” Mapa added.

‘ON THE MEND’

The country’s top economic managers said the easing of the unemployment rate and the generation of quality jobs for May this year point to improving economic conditions.

“These significant improvements point to an economy on the mend. As the economy was further reopened in the second half of May, more Filipinos were able to rejoin the labor force and earn sufficient income, as indicated by the lower underemployment rate,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, and Budget and Management Secretary Wendel Avisado said in a joint statement.

The economic managers added that 1.5 million jobs were created between April and May this year.

“Following the trend of recovery from the previous months, total employment remains above pre-Covid-19 levels with a net job creation of 2.2 million since January 2020,” they said.

They are also optimistic that the National Employment Recovery Strategy and the faster rollout of the Covid-19 vaccination program will support the government’s target to grow the economy by 6 to 7 percent this year.

Some 829,662 economic front-liners under the A4 priority group have received their first dose of Covid-19 jab since the list was expanded in May 27.

“We encourage local government units and establishments to coordinate on setting up vaccination facilities in workplaces. This will accelerate vaccine deployment and give our workers the confidence to go out and earn a living while keeping their families safe,” they added.

The economic managers also encouraged everyone to get vaccinated and continue to follow minimum health protocols in order to avoid another surge in Covid-19 cases, which will pose a threat of another round of stringent community quarantine measures.

“By getting vaccinated, each one can help restore the opportunities taken away by the pandemic. Let us continue working together to collectively achieve a strong recovery in 2021,” they said.*PNA

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