With an unemployment rate of 11.7% in July 2020, Central Visayas was among the five regions with the highest jobless rates in the country.
Central Visayas came in third, next to the National Capital Region (NCR) with 15.8% and CALABARZON (Region IV) with 12.4%, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported on September 3, 2020.
Two other regions with double-digit rates were Ilocos (Region I) with 11.1% and Central Luzon (Region III) with 10.9%.
Central Visayas is composed of Cebu, Bohol, Negros Oriental and Siquijor.
Nationwide, the PSA said an estimated 4.6 million Filipinos did not have jobs in July 2020.
This translated to an unemployment rate of 10%, an improvement from the 17.7% in April 2020 but still worse than the 5.4% in July 2019.
The PSA earlier said there were 7.3 million jobless Filipinos in April, when most local government units in the country were under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), the most stringent quarantine classification.
Under ECQ, public transport systems are suspended, businesses are closed except for those engaged in essential goods and services, and everyone is required to stay at home, except the frontliners in the battle against COVID-19, the essential personnel and those authorized to step out of their homes.
As unemployment eased, the employment rate improved to 90% in July 2020 from the 82.3% in April 2020.
About 41.3 million Filipinos were employed in July 2020, 7.5 million more than the 33.8 million in April 2020 but fewer than the 42.5 million in July 2019, the PSA said.
The underemployment rate, which measures those who are employed but still need to find another source of income, also eased to 17.3% in July 2020 from 18.9% in April 2020.
This was, however, still worse than the 13.6% estimate in July 2019.
The PSA said there were 7.1 million underemployed persons as of July 2020, “given the varying working arrangements and reduced working hours being implemented by companies/establishments.”
In July 2019 and April 2020, about 5.8 million and 6.4 million Filipinos, respectively, were underemployed, the PSA added.
There were a total of 74.1 million Filipinos, who are at least 15 years old, in the labor force in July 2020, higher than the 72.4 million in July 2019.
But only 45.9 million, or 61.9% labor force participation rate (LFPR), were active, lower than the 62.1% in July 2019.
The LFPR in April was an all-time low of 55.6%.
Acting National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) director general Karl Kendrick T. Chua said these figures “show a direct link between the level of quarantine restriction and labor market outcomes”.
The Philippines is technically in a recession following two consecutive quarters of negative gross domestic product (GDP) growth.
The country’s GDP, which is the sum of the goods and services produced in a certain period, fell by 0.7% in the first quarter and plunged by 16.5% in the second quarter as quarantine measures against COVID-19 took effect.
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To bounce back from the crisis, he said the government must further open the economy.
“This will depend on everyone working together to adhere to health standards, as the government accelerates the implementation of the recovery program,” he said.
The government’s recovery package is composed of the Bayanihan to Recover As One Act (Bayanihan 2), implementation of the infrastructure program, and passage of the 2021 budget amounting to P4.506 trillion.
“All three are needed to preserve current jobs, create new jobs, and prevent families from falling into poverty,” Chua said. (Ventures Cebu)