The country's unemployment rate declined in March while the quality of jobs improved, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

In a briefing yesterday, national statistician Dennis Mapa said preliminary results of the PSA's Labor Force Survey showed the unemployment rate was at 4.7 percent last March, down from 4.8 percent in February this year and 5.8 percent in March 2022.

This translates to 2.42 million jobless Filipinos in March this year, lower than the previous month's 2.47 million and the 2.88 million in March last year.

Mapa said the average unemployment rate in the first quarter was at 4.8 percent, below the 6.2 percent average in the same period last year.

Job quality improved as the underemployment rate dropped to 11.2 percent in March this year from 12.9 percent in February and 15.8 percent in March last year.

'This is the lowest since April 2005,' Mapa said.

There were 5.44 million underemployed people or those who were looking for additional hours of work or an additional job last March, down from 6.29 million in February this year and 7.42 million in March 2022.

The country's employment rate rose to 95.3 percent in March this year from 95.2 percent in the previous month and 94.2 percent in March 2022.

The number of employed individuals was at 48.58 million last March, lower than the 48.80 million in February this year, but higher than the 46.98 million in March 2022.

Mapa said the industries with the biggest drop in employment in March compared to February were wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles (-289,000); agriculture and forestry (-259,000); accommodation and food service activities (-240,000); fishing and aquaculture (-90,000), and human health and social work activities (-64,000).

On a year-on-year basis, those which saw the largest decline in employment in March were agriculture and forestry (-607,000); financial and insurance activities (-156,000); manufacturing (-136,000); human health and social work activities (-130,000); and information and communication (-78,000).

On the other hand, industries with the biggest gains in employment in March from the previous month are construction (286,000); transportation and storage (183,000); mining and quarrying (108,000); manufacturing (102,000); administrative and support service activities (86,000).

Those with the highest year-on-year increase in employment in March are transportation and storage (533,000); accommodation and food service activities (447,000); wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles (407,000); construction (384,000); and other service activities (344,000).

The country's labor force participation rate declined to 66 percent in March from 66.6 percent in the previous month, but went up from 65.4 percent in March last year.

To sustain the labor market performance, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said the government remains committed to enhancing labor productivity and strengthening efforts to encourage investments for the creation of high-quality jobs.

'Passing major economic liberalization reforms is a critical first step. However, in a region where our neighbors are also aggressively competing for investments, we must leverage on these changes to the country's policy regime by ensuring that we urgently address on-the-ground concerns related to the ease of doing business,' NEDA Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said.

He said there should be an enabling regulatory environment that makes it easy for investors to set up shop, expand, and generate the high-quality jobs needed in the country.


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