DESPITE a 7.9% unemployment rate in Central Visayas at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic last year, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) 7 said it is now seeing signs of slow growth employment this year.
But PSA 7 officials have warned that the unemployment rate in the region could rise again if workplaces do not strictly implement health protocols to protect their workers from transmission of coronavirus disease 2019.
During the report on the economic performance of PSA 7, Leopoldo Alfanta Jr., chief statistical specialist of PSA 7, said that in January this year, the employment rate was 92.1%.
Prior to the pandemic, Central Visayas maintained an employment rate above 95%.
But when the region was placed under enhanced community quarantine to slow the spread of Covid-19 in April 2020, the employment rate fell to 83.3%.
The decline in the employment rate was caused by temporary closures and the closing of non-essential businesses, while some businesses also reduced their workforce.
Efren Carreon, director of the National Authority for Economy and Development 7, said that in April 2020, about 41,000 workers were affected by temporary workplace closures and another 34,000 workers were affected in due to permanent closures.
Another 82,000 workers were also affected by the imposition of flexible working arrangements, which included reduced working days, reduced employees and forced furloughs.
Carreon said the pandemic and the level of community quarantine has resulted in a high unemployment rate of 16.7% across the region.
Among the sectors that have been hit hard by the pandemic are tourism, accommodation and alignment services; and transportation, Carreon said.
After the government eased community quarantine status in the region, some businesses were able to resume operations.
Alfanta said that when some businesses were able to open in July 2020, the employment rate in Central Visayas increased to 88.3%.
After that, the region’s employment rate continued to rise and was able to reach 90.1% in October 2020, Alfata said.
Alfanta hopes that Central Visayas will produce more goods and services this year than it produced last year.
For this to continually improve, Carreon said the government continues to urge businesses to improve their preventive measures against Covid-19.
Carreon said the national government continues to reiterate these warnings because it does not want commercial establishments to be transmission routes for Covid-19.
Once businesses become centers of Covid-19 transmission, that could mean shutdowns, which could also affect workers and consumer consumption, Carreon said.
To prevent this, the Department of Labor and Employment and the Department of Trade and Industry have issued joint guidelines for business establishments to follow to prevent the transmission of Covid-19 in the workplace. (KFD)