The number of jobless Filipinos fell last October, boosted by the continued easing of quarantine restrictions, the government’s economic managers said.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported on Tuesday, Dec. 7, that the country’s unemployment rate decreased to 7.4 percent in October from 8.9 percent in the previous month.

The latest unemployment rate translates to a total of 3.5 million jobless Filipinos.

“We are on the right track to a strong and early recovery. Once more, our strategy has been proven correct. The numbers tell us this,” the Duterte administration’s economic team said in a joint statement.

“As we relaxed restrictions to alert level 2, more people were able to work while COVID-19 positivity, case fatality, and bed occupancy rates continued to improve,” they said.

Should the gains are sustained, the economic managers believe that they will allow the Philippines to recover to the pre-pandemic level in early 2022, a year ahead of the government’s initial estimates.

The economic team is composed of Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl T. Chua, and Budget and Management officer-in-charge Tina Rose Marie Canda.

The underemployment rate, however, increased from 14.2 percent to 16.1 percent in the same period as more people worked under part-time arrangements. The labor force participation rate also slightly decreased from 63.3 percent to 62.6 percent.

Nevertheless, the economic team said more people are employed today than in the months before the pandemic struck.

Employment creation remained positive as 234,000 more Filipinos were able to find work in the past month. This brings total employment to 1.3 million above pre-pandemic levels.

Better employment outcomes in October were driven by the policies that further reopened the economy safely, such as shifting to the alert level system and granular lockdowns from large-area and blanket quarantines and allowing more mobility for vaccinated individuals.

“We will not, however, simply return to business as usual,” the economic managers said.

“We will restore our path towards a more sustainable growth against future crises by enacting pending economic liberalization and digital transformation bills to improve telecommunications services and attract more foreign direct investments,” they added.

Source: Manila Bulletin (