Recto: Continued improvements in PH jobs market and quality of jobs for Filipinos signal progress towards the country’s poverty reduction target

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Finance Secretary Ralph G. Recto has underscored that the continued improvements in the country’s jobs market and quality of jobs for Filipinos following the February 2024 Labor Force Survey (LFS) signal progress towards achieving the government’s target of reducing the poverty rate to single-digit or 9% by 2028.

“The results are encouraging signs that the government’s strategic thrust in providing more and better quality jobs to the Filipino people is paying off. I am optimistic that through this continued progress in our labor market, which leads to increased opportunities and incomes for more Filipinos, we will be able to reach our single-digit poverty goal sooner than expected,” Secretary Recto said.

In February 2024, the country’s unemployment rate dropped to 3.5% from 4.8% in the same month last year, translating to only 1.8 million unemployed individuals —the second-lowest number recorded ever.

The latest LFS showed that the country recorded a total number of 49 million employed individuals in February, higher than the 48.8 million in the same month last year. This brought the employment rate to increase to 96.5% from 95.2% in February 2023.

Wage and salary workers continued to contribute the largest share (62.9%) at 30.8 million of the total employed individuals in February 2024, of which 24.4 million were from private establishments–indicating that more Filipinos are engaged in formal and stable work.

By major sector, more than half of the jobs in February were provided by services (60.6%), about a quarter from agriculture (21.3%), and less than a fifth from industry (18.1%).

By sub-sector, the increase in employment was mainly due to job additions in construction; transportation and storage; administrative and support service activities; manufacturing; and accommodation and food service activities.

Apart from the higher number of employed individuals, the results showed that people are engaged in more quality jobs as underemployment continues to drop to 12.4% in February 2024 compared to 12.9% in February 2023.

Poverty reduction target

On the back of better labor market conditions, a recent Macro Poverty Outlook for the Philippines released by the World Bank projected that the country may reach its single-digit poverty incidence target sooner than expected.

The Philippine government aims to cut poverty incidence to a single digit or 9% by 2028, translating to about 14 million people lifted out of poverty.

The World Bank study estimated that the country could cut its poverty incidence to 9.3% in 2026–two years ahead of the 2028 target with the continuous improvement in the labor market and the easing of the inflation rate.

The Finance Chief said the Department of Finance (DOF) is committed to pushing more strategies that will further boost labor and improve employment conditions while making sure that inflation is well under control.

This includes the vigorous implementation of economic liberalization laws that will enhance the country’s business climate and attract more employment-generating investments.

In particular, Secretary Recto emphasized that the recent signing of the implementing rules and regulations for the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Code will unleash a steady stream of strategic, high-quality infrastructure investments that will stimulate job creation across the nation.

Furthermore, the government is steadfast in its support for reforms that will enhance the preparedness and employability of Filipinos for quality job opportunities, such as the Enterprise Productivity Act, the Apprenticeship Bill, and the Lifelong Learning Bill.

These initiatives will be complemented by sustained higher government investments in education, upskilling, worker training, healthcare, and other human capital development programs.

“All of our development efforts are directed towards harnessing the talents of our young workforce and building an economy where every Filipino can thrive, secure decent jobs, and create better lives for themselves and their families. All these provide pathways out of poverty and lay the groundwork for a more inclusive and prosperous future for our people,” the Finance Chief said.