Philippine unemployment rate drops to lowest since start of pandemic

January 7, 2022 - 11:31 AM
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Filipinos queue for a booster dose of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine amid rising infections, in Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines, January 5, 2022. (Reuters/Eloisa Lopez)

MANILA — The Philippines‘ unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest level since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, as an easing of curbs allowed more business activity, though concerns are growing about the impact of the spread of the Omicron variant.

The unemployment rate dropped to 6.5% in November, the lowest since it hit a record 17.6% in April 2020, the statistics agency said on Friday, as a decline in coronavirus infections late last year allowed for a further reopening of the economy.

But the arrival of the Omicron variant, which has so far been detected in 43 people in the country, is threatening to derail strong job gains after it has pushed the government to limit mobility and business activity to contain its spread.

Average daily infections in the past week have surged 11 fold versus the previous seven-day period, bringing total cases to over 2.88 million, and deaths to more than 51,700, the second highest number of cases and casualties in Southeast Asia, next to Indonesia. —Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales Editing by Ed Davies