Philippines Sees Recent Lockdown Reversing a Jobs Recovery

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The Philippines’ jobless rate fell in March to its lowest level since the pandemic began, but economic managers said a recent lockdown due to a new surge in Covid-19 cases will likely reverse job gains.

The unemployment rate dropped to 7.1% in March from 8.8% in February, the Philippine Statistics Authority reported Thursday. Some 2.2 million jobs were added, mostly in construction, retail and agriculture.

The survey was conducted before the Philippine capital and key economic areas nearby were placed back under lockdown in late March due to surging infections. The restrictions are expected to temporarily reverse employment gains, economic managers said in a statement Thursday after the data release.

However, the impact will be “less severe” than the one from restrictions last year, which closed 75% of the economy and drove unemployment to a record high, economic officials said. This time, most economic sectors were allowed to remain open despite the movement curbs.

The Philippines is expected to lag regional peers in recovering from last year’s record economic slump, according to the World Bank. The country is forecast to post the highest jobless rate in Asia this year, according to a Bloomberg survey.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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