Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star ) – July 31, 2020 – 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines — More workers have been shifting to informal work to make ends meet since the imposition of lockdowns early this year, according to the National Economic and Development Authority.
NEDA Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon said the agency is keeping a close watch on the coping measures adopted by workers displaced during the pandemic.
“What we have also observed in the April round of the Labor Force Survey is the increase in the informality of work,” she said in a briefing yesterday.
“We kind of expected this because if you have formal sector being closed down, then the only recourse is to go into informal sector.”
The April round of the Labor Force Survey (LFS) showed that unemployment rose to a record rate of 17.7 percent, the highest since 2005.
Some 7.3 million Filipinos found themselves jobless because of the restrictions in mobility and the delayed entry of young workers into the labor force.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) estimates the unemployment rate to have risen to 22 percent in June when the National Capital Region – the country’s economic powerhouse – was just emerging from enhanced community quarantine.
Employment levels are not expected to return to pre-pandemic levels until 2022, it has said.
Compared with the January LFS round, the unemployment rate then was placed at 5.3 percent while in April 2019, it was recorded at 5.1 percent.
NEDA is currently conducting a public online consultation with the World Bank that seeks to gather fresh information on the impact of the pandemic on individuals and businesses.
This comes after the three surveys conducted during the imposition of the ECQ on the situation of consumers, businesses and agriculture sector.
“But the data we have now is still dated and this is still a hypothesis. We think there is a good chance that it may be a correct hypothesis but we want to be able to test this and validate it from the data that we may be getting from this household survey,” Edillon said.
The previous surveys contained questions on how the pandemic and the subsequent imposition of the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) changed one’s quality of life, income and level of consumption.
Results of the consumer survey that came back showed diminished income and access to food supply and other essential needs.
With the number of COVID-19 positive cases in NCR still rising, proposals have been put forward to revert NCR to modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) status, the less strict version of the ECQ, after the capital has graduated to a looser community quarantine that allows more economic activities as of June.
Edillon said that while a “very protracted closure of the economy” will be damaging, the topmost priority of the government is still the health of the public.
“We are now trying to balance economic recovery with health strategies.”
Around 70 up to 75 percent of the domestic economy is now open with most of the country now under GCQ.
“The priority remains lives over the economy. But at the same time, having a very protracted lockdown of the economy can also bring about other health problems and this is what we want to address,” Edillon said.