April jobless rate eases as workforce shrinks

Unemployment eased further and job quality improved in April but fewer Filipinos entered the labor force, the government reported this morning.

Preliminary results from the Philippine Statistics Authority’s (PSA) April round of the Labor Force Survey (LFS) showed unemployment rate further eased to 5.7% from 58% in March. It was also lower than the 8.7% jobless rate in April last year.

The ranks of unemployed Filipinos declined by 112,700 to 2.762 million in April from 2.875 million in March. It also shrank by 1.376 million from 4.138 million last year.

It was the lowest unemployment rate since the 5.3% in January 2020.

The quality of jobs improved in April as underemployment rate — the share of those already working, but still looking for more work or longer working hours to total employed population — dipped to 14% from 15.8% in March and 17.2% in April last year.

This was equivalent to 6.399 million Filipinos looking for more work or longer working hours that month, 1.023 million less than March’s 7.422 million. It was also down by 1.054 million from 7.453 million a year ago.

Underemployment rate in April matched the same share in February and the lowest since 12.3% in May last year.

However, April’s labor force size went down month on month by 1.457 million to 48.393 million. On a year-on-year basis, it was larger by 986,600 from 47.407 million.

This translated to a labor force participation rate — the share of labor force to the total population 15 years old and over — of 63.4% in April, lower than 65.4% in March but higher than 63.2% in April 2021.

It was the lowest LFPR in three months or since 60.5% in January.

On a quarterly basis, the number of new entrants to the Filipino workforce reached 1.148 million in April, lower by 508,700 from January’s 1.656 million. However, this was 170,600 higher than last year’s 977,000.

This translated to 2.4% share of new entrants to the workforce in April, lower than 3.6% share in January but higher than 2.1% from a year ago.

The employment rate — the share of the employed to the total working force — was 94.3% in April, inching up from 94.2% in the previous month and 91.3% in April 2021.

This was equivalent to approximately 45.631 million employed Filipinos, shrinking by 1.457 million from 46.975 million in March. About 2.362 million Filipinos became employed from last year’s 43.269 million.

Average hours worked in a week reached 40.1, lower than 40.6 hours a week in March but remained higher than 38 hours a year ago.

Services sector remained the largest employer in April with 58% share. Agriculture and industry accounted for 23.6% and 18.4%, respectively.

The PSA started reporting monthly jobs data in 2021. Prior to that, the agency published employment figures on a quarterly (January, April, July, and October) basis.

The April round of LFS was conducted from April 8 to 30, covering 43,500 sample households. — Bernadette Therese M. Gadon

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