A worker installs steel rods at a construction site in Paranaque city, metro Manila, Philippines May 29, 2018.
A worker installs steel rods at a construction site in Paranaque City, Metro Manila, Philippines May 29, 2018. Reuters / ROMEO RANOCO


  • The Philippines' unemployment rate stood at 4.8% in January, up from October 2022's 4.5%
  • The country's top statistician argued that seasonal jobs contributed to the jump in unemployment rate
  • The number of employed Filipinos increased by 4.09 million in January compared to the same month last year

The Philippines recorded an uptick in its unemployment rate in January, as more than 100,000 Filipinos were added to the number of unemployed individuals since October last year.

According to the latest labor force survey of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the country's national unemployment rate rose to 4.8% in January, equivalent to 2.37 million unemployed Filipinos.

This was higher than the 4.5% or 2.24 million jobless reported in October 2022.

The construction sector recorded the biggest drop in the number of employed people with losses of around 557,000 between October 2022 and January 2023. It was followed by the fishing and aquaculture sector with 54,000 and agriculture and forestry with 38,000.

Philippine National Statistician Dennis Mapa argued that the increase in unemployment was caused by the lower demand for workers after the holiday season.

"We have seasonality due to economic activities during the holiday season," Mapa said during a briefing Thursday, CNN Philippines reported.

Despite the slight increase in the unemployment rate, the Philippines' socioeconomic secretary remains optimistic that the country's labor market would have a robust recovery.

"The latest employment indicators show the robust recovery and growth of our labor market from its slump in January 2022, when the surge in omicron cases prompted stringent mobility and capacity restrictions," Arsenio Balisacan, the head of the National Economic and Development Authority, said, according to local news outlet ABS-CBN News.

Data from the PSA showed that the Philippines' employment rate rose to 95.2% this January, compared to 93.6% in January 2022. January's figure was equivalent to 47.35 million employed Filipinos, an increase of 4.09 million from 43.27 million in January 2022.

The wholesale and retail trade as well as the repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles recorded the highest year-on-year increase in the number of employed Filipinos with 1.53 million in total. The agriculture and forestry sector gained 960,000 jobs, while the number of employed Filipinos in the accommodation and food service sector increased by 549,000.

Meanwhile, the Philippines' underemployment rate for January stood at 14.1% or about 6.65 million of employed persons wanting to work longer hours and secure better job opportunities. This was lower than the 14.9% reported in the same month last year and 14.2% in October 2022.

The latest employment numbers were released as the Philippines reported a rebound in factory production.

Preliminary results of the PSA's Monthly Integrated Survey of Selected Industries revealed that the volume of production index (VoPI) surged year-on-year to 10.6% in January.

The latest production index recorded the fastest expansion since March 2022, when it recorded 346.1%, Philippine news outlet GMA News reported.

The sectors that recorded the highest growth in factory production were food products manufacturing, beverages, and other non-metallic mineral products.

Maryam Baluch, an economist at the S&P Global Market Intelligence, said the easing of pandemic restrictions, new investments, and new projects signaled a "prosperous" 2023 for the Philippine manufacturing sector.

An aerial view shows the Ortigas business district in Pasig City, Philippines, June 10, 2022. Picture taken with a drone.
An aerial view shows the Ortigas business district in Pasig City, Philippines, June 10, 2022. Picture taken with a drone. Reuters / STAFF