Philippine jobless rate hits record 17.7% in April due to COVID-19 pandemic

June 5, 2020 - 4:47 PM
Passengers queue on a staircase as they wait for trains to be disinfected on its first day of reopening since the lockdown to contain the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) over two months ago, in Manila, Philippines, June 1, 2020. (Reuters/Eloisa Lopez)

MANILA — The Philippines‘ unemployment rate surged to a record 17.7% in April, the statistics agency said on Friday, as millions lost their jobs due to a pandemic-induced lockdown that battered the economy.

The Philippines, which before the pandemic was one of Asia’s fastest growing economies, is facing its biggest contraction in more than three decades after the new coronavirus shuttered businesses and crushed domestic demand.

April’s unemployment rate, which is 7.3 million people without jobs, compares with 5.3% in January and 5.1% in April last year.

“We should not lose sight of the fact that this loss in employment is really temporary,” Economic Planning Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon said in an online news conference.

The lockdown in the capital, Manila, which was one of the world’s longest and strictest, was relaxed as of June 1 to allow much-needed business activity to resume and soften the economic blow of the coronavirus, which has infected more than 20,000 in the country. —Reporting by Karen Lema and Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by Martin Petty