Unemployment rate spikes; 3.9 million now jobless

PHILIPPINES: The unemployment rate increased to 8.1% in August, up from 6.9% in July. This means that 3.88 million Filipinos are now unemployed.

According to the latest report by the Philippine Statistics Authority, the rise in unemployment has been driven by a series of nationwide lockdowns as COVID-19 cases have soared.

The report noted that some 800,000 individuals became jobless in August, in large part because of the strict community quarantine imposed by the governments of metropolitan Manila and nearby provinces for the third time.

The national government's economic team expected the spike in the jobless rate, but also acknowledged the possibility of easing restrictions as the number of COVID-19 cases has been declining. The government’s economic managers cited that the trend would help in the recovery phase as more Filipinos get vaccinated.

The report further showed that more Filipinos aged 15 years and older have joined the country’s labor force. The participation rate rose to 63.6% from 59.8%of the total working-age population. This translates to 48 million Filipinos who were economically active in August, from the 45 million in July.

Those searching for more work hours, or the underemployed, decreased in the same month, with 14.7% in August, from 20.9% in July. Because of the lockdowns, the average weekly hours of work decreased to 39.6 hours, from 41.8 hours in July.

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