The number of unemployed Filipinos decreased in May, underscoring the link between jobs and quarantine restrictions, President Rodrigo Duterte's economic managers said Thursday, as they looked to a faster COVID vaccine rollout to hasten the country's recovery.
The unemployment rate eased to 7.7% from 8.7%, which translates to 3.73 million jobless Filipinos in May from 4.14 million in the previous month, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed.
Underemployment, which represents Filipinos whose working hours are not enough for them, eased to 12.3% from 17.2%. It was the lowest since 1987. The Labor Force Survey released monthly since the pandemic, includes workers who are at least 15 years old.
"These significant improvements point to an economy on the mend. As the economy was further reopened in the second half of May, more Filipinos were able to re-join the labor force and earn sufficient income, as indicated by the lower underemployment rate," said the joint statement from Socioeconomic Planning Sec. Karl Chua, Finance Sec. Carlos Dominguez and Budget Sec. Wendel Avisado.
Turning the economy around to growth of 6 to 7% requires generating more jobs and accelerating the vaccine rollout, the secretaries said. Gross domestic product declined by 4.2% in the quarter ended March, keeping the economy in the worst recession since World War II.
"We encourage everyone to get vaccinated and to continue adhering to the minimum health standards. By getting vaccinated, each one can help restore the opportunities taken away by the pandemic. Let us continue working together to collectively achieve a strong recovery in 2021," they said.