MANILA – Economic managers have urged the public to take advantage of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) from August 6 to 20 to get vaccinated against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) to help ensure everyone’s safety and boost economic recovery.
In a statement on Tuesday after the release of the Labor Force Survey results for June 2021, which showed a flat growth of unemployment rate at 7.7 percent relative to the previous month, they said while the ECQ is seen to negatively impact the employment figures for August, the government is determined to maximize this period to accelerate vaccination in high-risk areas to safely resume economic activities and restore jobs.
“The safety of all Filipinos and the full reopening of the economy strongly depend on everyone’s cooperation,” they said.
The statement said a total of 20.9 million doses of vaccines against Covid-19 have been administered as of August 1. Bulk of these are first doses at 11.7 million while the balance of 9.1 million are second doses.
Of the total, 10 million doses were given last July alone, it said, citing the record-high daily vaccination was registered by the end of July at 659,029. The average daily doses stood at 523,018 in the last seven days.
“With this rapid progress in the rate of inoculation and the expected arrival of 132.7 million doses in the next six months, we are confident that we can vaccinate 70 million Filipinos or the entire adult population by the end of 2021,” it added.
Economic managers also called on businesses to continue innovating to ensure business and public service continuity, thereby enabling more people to work and earn income.
“These efforts will also be complemented by the National Employment Recovery Strategy to generate and preserve jobs while supporting existing and emerging businesses,” they said.
Based on the latest labor force survey, labor force participation rate (LFPR) rose to 65 percent last June from the previous month’s 64.6 percent amid the tighter quarantine classification to address the further rise of Covid-19 infections.
However, underemployment jumped to 14.2 percent from decades-low underemployment rate of 12.3 percent last May.
The statement said this figure, however, is still lower than the figures recorded in the first four months of 2021.
“Lower underemployment rates in recent months point to improving job quality as restrictions in the economy were relaxed,” it said.
In a report, Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) chief economist Michael Ricafort forecasts the level of unemployment rate to remain around the 6 percent to 7 percent, and even to 8 percent level due to the upcoming ECQ.
He said this level is expected and is similar to other countries on account of the economic impact of the pandemic, with economic activities hampered by the temporary closures of establishments.
Ricafort forecasts unemployment rate levels to ease in about one to two years partly due to the expected economic recovery and the national polls next year, with the latter requiring the fast-tracking of government spending, especially on infrastructure spending, before the election ban.
Another measure seen to boost employment data in the coming months is the accommodative monetary policy of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), which encourages investment and job creation as well as increased borrowings to, among others, the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
Ricafort said extension of more loan guarantees to MSMEs and agriculture sector, as well as the institution of reduction in corporate income tax through the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act, are also expected to spur economic activities. (PNA)