MANILA, Philippines — The jobless rate climbed to a “record-high” of 17.7 percent at the height of the COVID-19 lockdown in April, the government reported Friday.
Citing the preliminary results of the Philippine Statistics Authority’s (PSA) labor force survey (LFS), National Statistician Claire Dennis Mapa told a press conference that 7.3 million Filipinos were unemployed last April, up from 2.3 million a year ago and 2.4 million a quarter ago.
Mapa later explained that the April unemployment rate was the highest since April 2005, when the government changed its methodology in measuring employment. Using a different methodology, government records showed the last time that the jobless rate was double-digit was during the second quarter of 1991, Mapa said.
The decline in employment rate to 82.3 percent in April from 94.4 percent a year ago translated into an eight-million drop in the number of Filipinos with jobs to 33.8 million from 41.8 million last year.
Mapa said the number of employed decreased across all three major sectors—agriculture, industry and services.
Among employment sub-sectors, the biggest drops in employment were posted in arts, entertainment and recreation, 54 percent; electricity, gas, steam, and air conditioning supply, 43.1 percent; information and communication, 40.6 percent; accommodation and food service activities, 35.8 percent; and construction, 33.8 percent.
Mapa said 97.1 percent of the employed in April, who was not at work that month, blamed the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) imposed in Luzon and other parts of the country to contain the spread of COVID-19.
In April, the labor force declined to 41 million from 44 million a year ago, while the participation rate also dropped to 55.6 percent—the lowest since 1987, Mapa said.
This was despite an increase in the population of Filipinos 15 years and above to 73.7 million as of April from 71.8 million a year ago.
Per region, the highest unemployment rate was recorded in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), at 29.8 percent.
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