Philippine business sentiment improves as employment rate keeps momentum

2024 April 11

EMPLOYMENT RATE. A worker examines shoe molds in a footwear production in SSS Village, Marikina City on Sept. 20, 2023. The Philippine Statistics Authority reported on Thursday (April 11, 2024) that unemployment rate fell to 3.5 percent in February this year from 4.5 percent in January

MANILA – Business sentiment has improved in the Philippines under the Marcos administration as evidenced by the February 2024 jobs report, which shows encouraging signs of a consolidating jobs market, a House leader said on Thursday.

House ways and means committee chairperson Joey Salceda said the fastest-growing jobs are in more durable sectors, such as craft and related trade workers with 511,000 more jobs, plant and machine operators with 481,000 additional jobs.

He said declines were recorded among less durable sectors like skilled agricultural workers with 378,000 less jobs and elementary occupations with 782,000 less jobs.

He said this aligns with last year’s Business Outlook Index, which showed generally high business confidence in the mining, construction, and energy sectors, compared with agriculture and retail trade.

He noted that business sentiment in the country turned brighter as job quality improved.

“This job consolidation owes much to improved business sentiment under the Marcos administration. Growth in manufacturing jobs is especially a good sign for the Philippines amid global headwinds,” he said in a statement.

He said with job quality improving, the key priority remains to be wage quality.

He said the price of rice will be the primary factor determining how far current wages can go, considering that rice accounts for as much as 20.4 percent of the expenses of low-income workers, and the rising price of the staple is to blame for the price flare-ups of other goods.

“Without the global rice price shock, Filipino workers would be enjoying better jobs that offer enough discretionary income for other expenses – such as entertainment, household durables, and other basic comforts,” he said.

“As it stands, the country’s ability to generate more jobs in non-essential sectors is curtailed by rice inflation depleting disposable income,” he added.

He said the administration of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. is exploring solutions that will diversify the country’s rice sources, address its position as the world’s largest importer of rice, and endure the effects of El Nino.

“Cheaper rice means more and better jobs,” he said.

The Philippine Statistics Authority reported on Thursday that unemployment rate fell to 3.5 percent in February this year from 4.5 percent in January.

The country’s employment rate, meanwhile, went up to 96.5 percent in February from 95.5 percent in January and 95.2 percent in February this year.

Filane Mikee Cervantes (PNA)