DESPITE experiencing a 7.9 percent unemployment rate in Central Visayas during the start of the Covid-19 pandemic last year, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) 7 said they are now seeing signs of slow growth in employment this year.
But PSA 7 officials warned that the unemployment rate in the region could increase again if workplaces fail to strictly implement health protocols to protect their workers from coronavirus disease 2019 transmission.
During the PSA 7’s Economic Performance Report, Leopoldo Alfanta Jr., PSA 7 chief statistical specialist, said that as of January this year, the employment rate was 92.1 percent.
Before the pandemic, Central Visayas maintained an employment rate of above 95 percent.
But when the region was placed under enhanced community quarantine to slow down the spread of Covid-19 in April 2020, the employment rate dropped to 83.3 percent.
The decrease in the employment rate was caused by temporary closures and the closing down of non-essential businesses, while some companies also reduced their workforce.
Efren Carreon, National Economic and Development Authority 7 director, said during April 2020, around 41,000 workers were affected by temporary closures of workplaces and another 34,000 workers were affected due to permanent closures.
Another 82,000 workers were also affected by the imposition of flexible work arrangements, which included reduction of workdays, reduction of employees and forced leaves.
Carreon said the pandemic and the community quarantine level brought a high unemployment rate of 16.7 percent in the entire region.
Among the sectors that suffered severely during the pandemic were tourism, accommodation and align services; and transportation, Carreon said.
After the government eased the community quarantine status in the region, some businesses were able to resume operations.
Alfanta said when some businesses were able to open in July 2020, the employment rate of Central Visayas rose to 88.3 percent.
After that, the region’s employment rate continued to increase and was able to reach 90.1 percent by October of 2020, Alfanta said.
Alfanta is hopeful that this year, Central Visayas will produce more goods and services than what it produced last year.
For this to continuously 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 this warnings as they don’t want business establishments to be avenues of Covid-19 transmission.
Once businesses become centers of Covid-19 transmission, it could mean closures, which could affect workers and the consumption of the consumers as well, said Carreon.
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 as a way to prevent Covid-19 transmission in the workplace. (KFD)