Millions Got Their Jobs Back in March, ECQ Threatens to Reverse That

March unemployment was the lowest during the pandemic.
Photo/s: Jerome Ascaño

The number of jobless Filipinos declined to roughly 3.4 million in March as the looser quarantines at that time allowed more people to return to work, official data released Thursday showed.

The unemployment rate in March stood at 7.1%, the lowest since the start of lockdowns and community quarantines during the same period in 2020. It fell from 8.8% in February, the Philippine Statistics Authority said.

The unemployment data for March does not reflect the effect of the ECQ and MECQ, the two highest quarantines in Metro Manila, Laguna, Rizal, Cavite and Bulacan in April and due to last until May 14.

There could be a "temporary reversal" in jobs recovery in April, President Rodrigo Duterte's economic managers said in a joint statement. "However, the impact is expected to be less severe compared to April 2020 given our more risk-managed approach to the present quarantines."


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The ECQ and MECQ in 2021 were less strict compared to how the restrictions were implemented the year before. More people were allowed to work and limited public transport is allowed. The checkpoints are mostly concentraded on the borders of the so-called NCR Plus Bubble.

Some 2.2 million net jobs were created in March, with 45.3 million Filipinos employed in total compared to 43.2 million in the previous month. Underemployment also fell to 16.2% from 18.2% in February, data showed.


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