Home Equality & Justice Number of jobless Filipinos continues to rise during pandemic

Number of jobless Filipinos continues to rise during pandemic

Every morning, Cindy Aquino, 34, would check job listings online, hoping to find employment that has become elusive in the past 12 months.

“Chances of getting hired for a full-time job is way lower than getting infected with the coronavirus disease these days,” Aquino said in jest.

The IT company she worked for before the pandemic has declared bankruptcy and closed shop in March last year. Weeks later, her husband also lost his job.

The last payment she received from work helped the family of four survived the first few months of the pandemic.

The couple set up a small online food business and offered photography services “but the income is not enough.”

Rising rate of unemployment

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority in February 2021 show that there are about 4.187 million Filipinos who are now unemployed.

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The figure put the unemployment rate at 8.8 percent, the third-highest since the jobless rates recorded in April 2020 and July 2020 at 17.6 percent and 10 percent, respectively.

The survey also indicated that the underemployment rate, or the proportion of those already working but still looking for more work or longer working hours, has worsened.

From 16 percent in January, it rose to 18.2 percent or 7.85 million underemployed Filipinos in February.

The Department of Labor and Employment expects the numbers to increase in the coming months with about 8,000 workers already displaced during the first three days of the lockdown.

‘People-centered pandemic response’

The social action arm of the Catholic Church has urged the government to come up with a “people-centered pandemic response” that would address the economic impacts of the health crisis.

Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo, national director of Caritas Philippines, said everyone must help in generating jobs.

The prelate called for more welfare subsidy “for struggling Filipino households” from the loans obtained by the government last year.

He said the government must also consider lessening the salaries of top government officials and “allot the funds for poor communities and the labor sector.”

Independent think-tank Ibon Foundation said the country’s economic recovery will only move if the government would properly address the spread of COVID-19.

The group said a “more aggressive and expansionary fiscal policy” is needed to arrest economic distress and spur recovery.

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