Metro Manila, Philippines — The number of jobless Filipinos fell to 2.24 million in October, with the unemployment rate dipping to its lowest in two years, data released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) on Wednesday showed.

The PSA said the national unemployment rate that month was at 4.5%, down from 5% in September when the estimated unemployment tally was 2.5 million.

This is the country’s lowest percentage of Filipinos out of work since October 2019, PSA chief Dennis Mapa said in a press briefing.

“Last quarter kasi, medyo marami tayong mga economic activities because of the holiday season, so expected naman ito na bumaba ‘yung ating unemployment rate, nasa 4.5% na lang. And we hope that this will continue,” Mapa explained.

[Translation: Last quarter, there were a lot of economic activities because of the holiday season, so the decrease in the unemployment rate to 4.5% was expected. And we hope that this will continue.]

According to the PSA, the average unemployment rate so far this year stands at 5.6%. This is still higher than the 5.1% average in 2019, the year before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Comparing data between July and October this year, Mapa said the major industry with the largest increase in employment was the transportation and storage sector which registered 239,000 more jobs.

Completing the top five were the manufacturing, education, administrative and support service activities, and construction industries.

On the other hand, the PSA said the agriculture and forestry sector shed the most jobs at 511,000 less from July to October.

“May mga regions kung saan walang activities dito sa dalawang subsectors na ito kaya sila nag-contribute,” Mapa said. “Again, this is a factor ng seasonality doon sa agri sector.”

[Translation: There were regions with no activities in these two subsectors, that’s why they contributed to unemployment. Again, this is a factor of seasonality in the agriculture sector.]

The following industries also saw the second- to the fourth-largest drop in employment: wholesale/retail trade and repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles; public administration/defense and compulsory social security; arts, entertainment and recreation; and real estate activities.

Meanwhile, the number of underemployed Filipinos dropped to 6.67 million (14.2%) in October, from 7.33 million (15.4%) in September.

Mapa said the average underemployment rate from January to October is at 14.4%, lower than the 16% logged in the full year of 2021.

The PSA data showed both the national employment and unemployment rates have returned to pre-pandemic levels since July 2022.