Business

Shocked Diokno says all-time high jobless rate doesn’t reflect reality: Aug report will be starkly different

The Philippines’ 17.7 percent record-high unemployment rate last April does not reflect the true picture of the economy and the jobs market due to the impact of the global pandemic, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno said.

The Philippines’ 17.7 percent record-high unemployment rate last April does not reflect the true picture of the economy and the jobs market due to the impact of the global pandemic, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno said.

Related story: This is the worst unemployment record since January 2005 when the jobless rate surged to 11.5 percent.

In a Viber message to reporters Saturday, Diokno said the unemployment rate in the fourth month this year “was more a result of the policy decision to save lives in response to the Covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic.”

He said the April 2020 Labor Force Survey (LFS) was conducted from April 20 to May 16 or during the enhanced community quarantine, which was initially raised over mainland Luzon since March 17 and was extended until May 12.

Due to the community quarantine, he said “a big part of the economy was shuttered.”

He pointed out that “the consequent rise in joblessness was state induced.”

“I’m confident that the next jobs report which is due in August 2020 will show a starkly different picture,” he said, citing that the next LFS will be done from July 20 to August 15.

Diokno said, “while the impact of the pandemic on the economy is broad-based, it is uneven across industries.”

He said job losses “follow the same pattern” and “predictably most jobs were lost in the services sector (wholesale and retail, transportation and storage, accommodation and food) and the industry sector (construction and manufacturing).”

He said workers in the agriculture sector were allowed to work during the quarantine which explains the fewer job loss.

He said job recovery will eventually happen but while there will be jobs that will be permanently lost there will new ones that will be created.

“On the part of the BSP, while it cannot directly ease the rise in unemployment, it recognized that the timely, proactive, and decisive monetary actions it deployed at the onset of the pandemic were strategic moves to contain the volatilities and ensure confidence in the financial market, thereby, averting further damage to the economy,” he said.

Diokno said the central bank is “committed to stav(ing) off prolonged and deeper economic contraction.”

“We, therefore, reiterate our support for carefully coordinated actions with other government authorities, as well as pending stimulus bills in Congress aimed at responding to the evolving needs of the economy as it transitions into new economic realities amid the ongoing pandemic,” he added. (PNA)

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