PHILIPPINES: The unemployment rate dropped to 6.5% in November 2021, the lowest since it hit a record 17.6% at the height of the pandemic in April, 2020, the Philippine statistics agency has reported.
Despite growing concerns about the impact and rapid spread of the Omicron variant, quarantine restrictions were relaxed to allow more business activity during the Christmas holidays, one of the peak seasons for the Filipino retail sector.
A decline in coronavirus infections late last year also encouraged the government to the further reopening of the economy.
But the arrival of the Omicron variant, which has so far been detected in 43 people in the country, is threatening to disrupt strong job gains. It has pushed the government to again limit mobility and business activity in the New Year.
Average daily infections in the past week have surged 11-fold versus the previous seven-day period, bringing total cases to over 2.88 million, and deaths to more than 51,700, the second-highest number of cases and casualties in Southeast Asia, next to Indonesia.