Finance Secretary Ralph G. Recto has expressed optimism on the December 2023 Labor Force Survey results which showed that the Philippines recorded a historic-low unemployment rate, declining underemployment, and faster growth in the labor force––all reflecting the continued improvement of the country’s jobs market and quality of employment for Filipinos.
“These results are truly promising. We are more optimistic about providing more quality jobs for our people as the Marcos, Jr. administration rolls out the red carpet for investors to enter the country. In tandem, we will prioritize empowering our workforce through substantial investments in human capital development. This will enhance their preparedness for high-quality employment opportunities,” Secretary Recto said.
In December 2023, the Philippines recorded the lowest unemployment rate since 2005 at 3.1%, indicating sustained enhancement in the labor market as more Filipinos are being hired.
This brings the full-year 2023 unemployment rate to 4.3%, way below the government’s 5.3% to 6.4% target for 2023 and already within the 4.0% to 5.0% target for 2028 as laid out in the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2023-2028.
Apart from the increased number of employed individuals, the results showed that people are engaged in more quality jobs as underemployment continues to decrease, reaching 11.9% in December 2023 as compared to the 12.6% recorded in the same month in 2022.
Underemployment refers to the desire of workers to have additional hours of work in their present job or to have additional jobs.
This improvement in the quality of jobs is evident in the current landscape of employment class in the country.
In December 2023, wage and salary workers continued to contribute the largest share of employed individuals at 62.7%, of which 49.2% came from private establishments.
Wage and salary workers are also the main contributors to the increase in employment during the said month, translating to about 1.45 million out of 1.5 million created jobs for the period.
Overall, the employment rate rose to 96.9% in December 2023 from 95.7% in the same period in 2022.
The majority of the 1.5 million new workers who joined the workforce in December 2023 came from the construction sector followed by agriculture and forestry as well as accommodation and food service activities.
In December 2023, a total of 50.5 million people were employed and more than half of them were in services (57.3%), about a quarter from agriculture (24.4%), and less than a fifth from industry (18.3%) sectors.
The Labor Force Participation Rate (LFPR), or the estimate of an economy’s active workforce, rose to 66.6% in the said period, reflecting faster growth in the labor force compared to the working-age population.
Government efforts to improve labor conditions
The government is committed to pushing more strategies that will further boost labor and improve employment conditions.
On the part of the Department of Finance (DOF), it will continue to foster an environment that is conducive to employment-generating investments.
“Quality jobs need to be created in sectors with current labor supply constraints, as well as in other higher value-added sectors like BPO, IT, construction, accounting, and healthcare, among others,” the Finance Chief said.
The DOF will ensure the efficient implementation of the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act to attract more strategic investments into the country. It is working on amending the law to further address investor concerns and tailor fit incentives.
With its high multiplier effect on the economy, the government will vigorously implement the President’s Build Better More program to generate more jobs and investments.
The DOF will ensure the efficient execution of the 2024 national budget through timely implementation of projects to avoid government underspending, allowing it to hold fast to the commitment to delivering high-yielding infrastructure projects.
The government will likewise strengthen the implementation of the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Code to bring in more capital that will cut infrastructure backlog while freeing budget space for social services and generating jobs that boost domestic consumption.
Meanwhile, the Finance Chief aims to achieve its revenue collection targets by further enhancing tax administration efficiency to allow the government to provide more funds for education, upskilling and worker training, health care, and other human capital development programs that will improve the preparedness of Filipinos for quality job opportunities.
“Improving labor quality ultimately raises productivity, resulting in increased real wages and leading to higher economic growth,” said Secretary Recto.