The coronavirus pandemic has been affecting economies worldwide for one year now and the Philippines is no exemption.

Still, the employment rate in the country was at 91.2 percent in February 2021, according to the latest Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) report.

Photo: NECESSARY MOVE. The country’s economic leaders say quarantine restrictions are imposed after careful studies. They assured that the Duterte administration is doing everything to curb the spread of Covid-19. (PNA file photo)

“Equivalently, there were 43.2 million Filipinos who had job or business out of the 47.3 million Filipinos who were in the labor force. In January 2021 and October 2020, the data was 91.3 percent,” National Statistician and Civil Registrar General Undersecretary Dennis Mapa said in a virtual briefing on March 30, 2021.

The unemployment rate slightly increased to 8.8 percent in February, compared to 8.7 percent in January.

The highest unemployment rate since the pandemic was declared in March last year was 17.6 percent in April 2020.

The number of unemployed Filipinos 15 years old and over also increased to 4.2 million in February 2021, about 234,000 higher than the reported 4 million in January 2021.

The PSA report also showed that of the employed persons in February, there were 7.9 million categorized as underemployed, or those who expressed their desires to have additional hours of work in their present jobs or to have additional jobs or to have new jobs with longer hours of work.

This was higher than the reported 6.6 million underemployed Filipinos in January 2021.

In terms of proportion, the underemployment rate in February 2021 was estimated at 18.2 percent, higher than in January 2021 (16 percent), October 2020 (14.4 percent), and July 2020 (17.3 percent).

Among underemployed persons, 12.5 percentage points were visibly underemployed or employed persons who worked less than 40 hours in a week and wanted additional hours of work.

On the other hand, 5.7 percent were invisibly underemployed or employed persons who worked more than 40 hours in a week and who wanted additional hours of work.

Mapa said another enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) this month would take a toll on Filipinos, especially those who are under no work, no pay schemes.

“If we will base it on the ECQ and modified ECQ last year, the labor force went down and unemployment went up,” Mapa said.

The country’s economic managers, however, said the data of 43.2 million employed is higher than the record in January 2020 although they recognized that the weeklong ECQ is another setback.

“This decision to reimpose the ECQ was arrived at after a careful analysis of the cost and benefit for the people,” Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, Budget and Management Secretary Wendel Avisado, and Acting Socioeconomic Planning chief Karl Kendrick Chua said in a joint statement.

“We assure the Filipino people that the Duterte administration will not squander this opportunity to slow down the spread of the virus and recalibrate our Covid-19 response strategies,” they added. (Christine Cudis, PNA)