June 10, 2022 — Targeted subsidies and the full resumption of face-to-face schooling will help bring back employment in the hardest-hit sectors, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said.

The Philippine Statistics Authority reported today that the country’s unemployment rate decreased from 5.8 percent in March 2022 to 5.7 percent in April 2022, the lowest since the start of the pandemic. Underemployment also declined from 15.8 percent to 14 percent in the same period.

However, fewer Filipinos participated in the labor force due to supply chain disruptions brought about by the Russia-Ukraine conflict and seasonal factors in agriculture, among others. The labor force participation rate declined from 65.4 percent to 63.4 percent, translating to a net employment loss of 1.3 million between March and April.

Of the 1.3 million net employment loss, 1.1 million were from agriculture while 0.5 million were from services. This was slightly tempered by 0.3 million employment generated in the industry sector.

“Higher oil prices and seasonal factors have impacted workers in the transport and agriculture sectors, respectively, and hindered some from going to work. To address this, the government will urgently distribute targeted subsidies to the hardest-hit sectors to cushion higher prices,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua said.

The government is rolling out targeted subsidies amounting to 6.1 billion pesos for the transport and agriculture sectors. This consists of 5 billion pesos worth of fuel vouchers to qualified public utility vehicle drivers and operators who will each receive a 6,500-peso fuel subsidy under the Pantawid Pasada program. Meanwhile, 1.1 billion pesos will be distributed as fuel discounts to farmers and fisherfolk.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board also approved the one-peso provisional fare increase for public utility jeepneys in the National Capital Region, Region 3, and Region 4A to address increasing fuel prices.

Chua added that the Civil Service Commission has allowed government offices to adopt flexible work arrangements, such as four-day work weeks, to help employees save on fuel costs.

Despite external risks, overall employment remains at 3.1 million above the pre-pandemic level as around 80 percent of the economy has been placed under alert level 1.

However, Chua reiterated that the country cannot reap the full benefits of alert level 1 without the full resumption of face-to-face classes. This is among the strategies cited in Executive Order No. 166, which adopts the Economic Development Cluster’s 10-point-policy agenda to accelerate and sustain economic recovery.

Without the full resumption of face-to-face classes, businesses that cater to students remain closed or operate at reduced capacity. In addition, one-fourth of parents cannot go to work as they need to support and manage their children’s online schooling, thus limiting the income generation of some households.

“The Philippine economy has recovered to its pre-pandemic gross domestic product level this year. We must now focus on accelerating our growth by strengthening our domestic economy and investing in the education and development of our children. This will help secure better employment opportunities for future generations,” Chua said.

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