Over 4 Million Filipinos Jobless in February 2021, Unemployment Surges 8.8%

Over 200,000 people were added to the unemployed since January 2021.

There are 4.2 million jobless Filipinos as of February 2021, an increase of about 234,000 compared to the previous month, the Philippine Statistics Authority reported on Tuesday (March 30). 

That puts the unemployment rate at 8.8 percent for February, which is higher than in January 2021 and October 2020, both with 8.7 percent. According to the PSA, this is the third-highest unemployment rate since April 2020, which was pegged at 17.6 percent.

The number of unemployed Filipinos counts those who are 15 years old and over.

Among the 43.2 million employed persons in February 2021 (91.2 percent of the population), 7.9 million were categorized as underemployed or “those who expressed their desires to have additional hours of work in their present job or to have additional job, or to have a new job with longer hours of work.” This was significantly higher than the reported 6.6 million underemployed Filipinos in January 2021. In terms of proportion, underemployment rate in February 2021 was estimated at 18.2 percent, which is higher than those reported in January 2021 (16 percent), October 2020 (14.4 percent), and July 2020 (17.3 percent). 

The PSA further identified the five sub-sectors with the highest gain in employment from January 2021 to February 2021:

1| activities for extraterritorial organizations and bodies (51.8 percent),
2| water supply; sewerage, waste management and remediation activities (24.1 percent),
3| human health and social work activities (12.7 percent),
4| other service activities (11.9 percent), and                 
5| wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles (11.5 percent).

On the other hand, electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply, as well as mining and quarrying registered a decline in employment by -25.5 percent, and -18.9 percent, respectively from January 2021 to February 2021.

The services sector remained the dominant industry employer, with about 58.4 percent share to the total employed persons in February 2021. This was followed by the agriculture sector with 23.9 percent share, and the industry sector, which accounted for the smallest share of 17.7 percent. 

In a virtual press briefing, Undersecretary Dennis Mapa, national statistician and civil registrar general, shared that the average weekly work hours in February was at 38.9 hours, which is slightly lower than the 39.3 hours recorded in January. Mapa said this was up from April and July 2020, which was at 35 and 38.2 hours, respectively, but lower than October 2020, which was at 40.8 hours.

In January 2020, which was before the pandemic and the announcement of strict lockdowns, the average weekly work hours recorded by the PSA stood at 41.3 hours.

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Paul John Caña
Associate Editor, Esquire Philippines
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