MANILA ⸺ The Philippines’ unemployment rate remained at 8.7% in January, unchanged from the last official survey in October, with more people rejoining the labour force as the country relaxed coronavirus curbs and reopened the economy.
The Southeast Asian nation, one of the region’s fastest growing economies before the pandemic, is grappling with a renewed spike in COVID-19 infections though the government has ruled out reimposing tighter restrictions.
The unemployment rate in January, equivalent to four million jobless people, compared with 5.3%, or 2.4 million without jobs, in the same period last year, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed on Tuesday.
The labour force expanded to 45.2 million in January from 43.6 million in October.
The employment number “tells us that we are on track to getting back most of the jobs we have lost due to COVID-19 and the quarantines,” said a joint statement from the Philippine government’s economic managers, which includes the finance, economic planning and budget ministers.
A gradual relaxation of community quarantine measures and further opening of public transportation will boost consumer spending and provide more job opportunities, the officials said.
The unemployment rate hit a record 17.7% in April, equivalent to 7.3 million people without jobs, as President Rodrigo Duterte imposed strict lockdown measures to prevent the spread of the virus.
Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by Ed Davies; Reuters