Unemployment rate in Philippines falls to 7.1% in March 2021

Francia Nolasco, 78, gets a shot of China's Sinovac coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at home, administered by health workers at Marikina, Metro Manila, Philippines,on May 5, 2021. - Reuters

MANILA, May 6 (Xinhua): Around 3.44 million Filipinos were out of work in March, down from the 4.2 million in February as the country reopens further the economy, the Philippines Statistics Authority (PSA) said on Thursday.

Citing the March labor force survey results, PSA Head Dennis Mapa said the Philippines' unemployment rate in March fell to 7.1 per cent amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The unemployment rate in February was 8.8 per cent.

Mapa said the number of unemployed Filipinos aged 15 years and over in March was estimated at 3.44 million, a reduction of about 747,000 unemployed persons from February.

"This is the lowest reported rate covering of the COVID-19 pandemic since April 2020 (at the height of the lockdown period)," Mapa said in an online briefing, expressing hope that the downward trend will continue.

Mapa said the employment rate rose to 92.9 percent in March, from 91.2 percent in February.

"This translates to a month-on-month increase of about 2.18 million Filipinos who had job or business, from 43.15 million in February 2021 to 45.33 million Filipinos in March 2021," Mapa said.

Mapa said that the underemployment rate in the country also decreased from 18.2 percent in February to 16.2 percent in March.

In addition, Mapa said more people rejoined the labor force, with the labor force participation rate (LFPR) improving from 63.5 per cent to 65 per cent.

Indeed, the country's labour market continued to see gains in March as the economy reopens. Rising labour force participation and falling unemployment have enabled millions of Filipinos to regain their jobs and incomes in March.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua said that the government expects "to see a temporary reversal of these employment gains" due to the imposition of strict lockdown measures in Metro Manila and its four adjacent provinces from March 29 to May 15.

"However, the impact is expected to be less severe compared to April 2020 given our more risk-managed approach to the present quarantines," Chua said.

The Philippines has been in varying lockdown levels since the government imposed a lockdown in mid-March last year, causing many businesses to close down temporarily.

Despite the extended lockdown, the Philippines still grapples with surging infections, which totaled 1,073,555 as of Wednesday. The disease claimed over 17,000 lives so far. - Xinhua
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