The unemployment rate increased to 5.3 percent in January this year from 4.5 percent in October but was unchanged from a year ago, according to the latest Labor Force Survey conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority.
Data showed that the ranks of the unemployed rose to 2.39 million in January from 2.05 million in October and 2.29 million a year earlier.
The underemployment rate or the proportion of those already working, but still looking for more work or longer working hours, also widened to 14.8 percent in January from 13 percent in October. However, this declined from 15.4 percent in January 2019.
“Among the unemployed persons in January 2020, 63.3 percent were males. Of the total unemployed, the age group 15 to 24 years comprised 42.4 percent, while the age group 25 to 34 [was] 32.1 percent,” the PSA said.
The labor force participation rate―the proportion of the labor force to population 15 years old and over―improved to 61.7 percent in January from 60.3 percent a year ago.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Statistics Authority said factory production, as measured by the volume of production index, also declined 1.6 percent in January based on the results of the monthly integrated survey of selected industries.
Concerns over coronavirus disease affecting tourism and travel activities in the country could dampen production of consumer-related manufactures such as food and beverages, the National Economic and Development Authority said.
“Intensifying government’s actions to monitor and implement mitigating measures will temper the potential negative impact of the COVID-2019 on the manufacturing industry,” said Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia.
“Government needs to work closely with the industry in crafting and implementing strategies to effectively mitigate the possible impacts of COVID-19 on production,” said Pernia.
Pernia said there was a need to map out entire value chains across primary, secondary and tertiary players in the economy, to understand where critical parts are sourced, to identify alternative market sources and to beef up inventory capacity to insulate against vulnerabilities.
“To help the manufacturing industry become more competitive and resilient, relevant government agencies need to swiftly implement measures that would streamline processes, facilitate trade, and reduce transactions costs,” he said.