Underemployment, at 15.9%, still hounds PHL labor force scenario


OVER a million Filipinos looked for additional sources of income while nearly two million dropped out of the labor force to focus on family duties in July 2023, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

In July 2023, the number of unemployed Filipinos reached 2.27 million, lower by 329,00 compared to July 2022 but higher by 17,000 compared to April 2023. This translated to an unemployment rate of 4.8 percent.

In terms of the underemployed, there were 7.1 million in July 2023, higher by 562,000 than July 2022 and by 900,000 compared to April 2023. This represented an underemployment rate of 15.9 percent.

Ang malaking nag-contribute dito in terms of classification of underemployment, talagang nagpataas yung invisible underemployment [A big contributor here in terms of classification of underemployment, is the invisible underemployment],” National Statistician Claire Dennis S. Mapa said in a briefing on Friday.

Based on classification, there were 3.585 million visible underemployed Pinoys and 3.519 million who were considered invisibly underemployed.

Mapa said between July 2023 and July 2022, year-on-year, there was a 1.25-million increase in invisible underemployment.

On a quarterly basis, Mapa said there was a 1.9-million increase in invisible underemployment in July 2023 compared to April 2023.

“There are two classes of underemployed. One is the visible underemployed who works for less than 40 hours and so wants to add more work hours,” Mapa said.

“But there is another one, the invisible underemployed who works for 40 hours and above, but the person wants to have more hours or more jobs,” he added.

Meanwhile, the country’s labor force declined to 46.9 million, translating to a labor force participation rate of only 60.1 percent. This was 3.09 million lower compared to July 2022 and 3.41 million lower than April 2023.

Mapa said this was largely due to the 1.99 million who declared that they dropped out of the labor force to focus on household duties such as chores and caring for family members; while 1.08 million said they were still too young to work, largely from the new entrants.

The data also showed that 365,000 Filipinos dropped out of the labor force because they believed there were no available jobs for them. These constitute what are called “discouraged workers.”

“These three categories, the increases, formed the substantial reasons for that drop in the numbers,” Mapa said.

Government efforts
The National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) stressed that the government’s priority remains creating high-quality and high-paying jobs to address the rising issue of vulnerable employment, particularly among self-employed and unpaid family workers.

Neda Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan reiterated the importance of fast-tracking the implementation of the FY 2023 budget and the government’s infrastructure programs bannered by the ‘Build-Better-More’ infrastructure flagship projects that aim to strengthen the country’s competitiveness and create more job opportunities for workers.

He also expressed the Marcos Administration’s priority to roll out programs enhancing the skillsets of Filipino employees.

“We will focus on expanding upskilling and retooling programs to improve the country’s labor market performance. These are critical to assisting members of the workforce, particularly those in vulnerable employment, to improve their employability and allowing them to move across industries and occupations,” he added.