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DoF: Jobless rate goal set at 5.3-6.4%

Unemployment could worsen this year but not to levels seen during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, figures from the Department of Finance showed.

"For full-year 2023, the government targets an unemployment rate of 5.3 to 6.4 percent," the department said in a statement on Thursday after the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported that unemployment had picked up to 4.8 percent in January from 4.3 percent a month earlier.

No reason was given for the target, which is mostly higher than last year's preliminary result of 5.4 percent.

The jobless rate in 2019, just before Covid-19 hit, was 5.1 percent. It surged to 10.3 percent in 2020 as lockdowns sent the economy into a free-fall and then eased to 7.3 percent in 2021 as businesses gradually started reopening.

National Statistician Dennis Mapa downplayed the January result, attributing the increase from December to seasonal factors.

The official PSA statement made no mention of the month-on-month rise, instead focusing on improvements from a year earlier when unemployment was 6.4 percent.

Underemployment — a measure of job quality — also worsened in January to 14.1 percent from 12.6 percent in December. A year earlier, it was 14.9 percent.

The year-on-year improvement, Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno said, was "reflective of the country's continued economic recovery."

"To sustain these gains, we are boosting job creation and productivity through high investments in human capital development and public infrastructure," he added.

"Given the challenges such as rising inflation and the possible impact of a global economic slowdown, the economic team stands ready to implement appropriate measures to ensure that our economic and employment gains are sustained."

Source: Manila Times

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