Employment Situation in January 2021

Reference Number: 


Release Date: 

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Table A-1

Highlights of the January 2021 Labor Force Survey (LFS)

a. In the Philippines, unemployment rate in January 2021 remained the same as the October 2020 rate of 8.7 percent. This is the lowest since April 2020 but higher than the January 2020 rate of 5.3 percent. (Table A-1)

b. In terms of magnitude, around 4.0 million Filipinos 15 years old and over were unemployed in January 2021 compared to 2.4 million in January 2020. (Table A)

c. Labor force participation rate (LFPR) in January 2021 was placed at 60.5 percent accounting for 45.2 million Filipinos 15 years and over who were in the labor force.  This is lower than the LFPR in the same period a year ago at 61.7 percent but higher than the previous quarter’s 58.7 percent. (Table A)

d. Employment rate in January 2021 stood at 91.3 percent, which is the same as the October 2020 rate. This means that 41.2 million Filipinos were employed out of 45.2 million Filipinos in the labor force in January 2021. This estimated rate is lower than the reported 94.7 percent in January 2020. (Table A).

e. Underemployed persons or employed persons who expressed their desire to have additional hours of work in their present job or to have additional job, or to have a new job with longer hours of work was estimated at 6.6 million or 16.0 percent of the total employed persons in January 2021. This underemployment rate is higher than the October 2020 rate of 14.4 percent, and the January 2020 rate of 14.8 percent. (Table A)

f. The average weekly hours of work of an employed person decreased in January 2021 at 39.3 hours from an average of 41.3 hours in January 2020. This is also lower than the average weekly hours of work in October 2020 at 40.8 hours. (Table A)

g. By region, unemployment rates in seven (7) areas of the country were reportedly higher than the national estimate of 8.7 percent in January 2021. Two of these regions, CALABARZON, and Bicol Region, reported double-digit unemployment rates of 13.1 percent, and 11.3 percent, respectively. Equivalently, these regions were reported to have more than ten unemployed persons for every 100 persons in the labor force. (Table 4A)

h. Among men and women, labor force participation rate in January 2021 was higher for men (73.9%) than for women (46.9%). On the other hand, employment rate for men was registered at 91.3 percent while 91.2 percent for women. Men also reported higher underemployment rate at 17.6 percent compared to underemployment rate for women at 13.4 percent. (Table D)

i. By industry group, the services sector remained dominant with 57.2 percent share to the total employed persons, followed by the agriculture sector with 24.4 percent share, and the industry sector with 18.4 percent which accounted for the smallest share. (Table 1A)

The top three (3) sub-sectors that bounced back in terms of employment level from October 2020 to January 2021 were as follows: arts, entertainment, and recreation under the services sector (25.7%); mining and quarrying under the industry sector (14.1%); and real estate activities (11.3%). On the other hand, the fishing and aquaculture sub-sector registered the lowest drop in employment by -16.1 percent from October 2020 to January 2021. (Table B)

In terms of year-on-year employment growth rates, two sub-sectors reported the biggest decline in employment, namely, electricity, gas, steam and air-conditioning supply at -34.7 percent; and arts, entertainment and recreation at -31.8 percent. On the other hand, information and communication had the highest year-on-year employment growth rate (25.0%) followed by human health and social work activities (11.9%). (Table B)

j. Youth LFPR was placed at 34.7 percent in January 2021, 33.9 percent in October 2020, and 37.4 percent in January 2020. Youth employment rate was lowest in January 2021 at 80.2 percent compared to the rates in October 2020 and in January 2020 at 80.6 percent and 86.4 percent, respectively. Underemployed youth was estimated at 826 thousand out of the 5.6 million 15 to 24 years old individuals reported as employed in January 2021. Youth unemployment rate was higher at 19.8 percent accounting for around 1.4 million youth with no job or business in January 2021. (Table A)



National Statistician and Civil Registrar General




I. Introduction

a. Background

The stability and growth of a country’s economy hinges on its ability to produce goods and services for both domestic and international use. Labor represents an important factor of production, hence, the improvement of the quality of the labor force, and efforts to make it more productive and responsive to growth are necessary for the development of the economy. A clear knowledge and understanding of the size, composition and other characteristics of the segment of the population is a big step in this direction. A continuing supply of the data on labor force is indispensable to national and local development planning.

The Labor Force Survey (LFS) is a nationwide quarterly survey of households conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) to gather data on the demographic and socio-economic characteristics of the population.

b. Objectives

The LFS aims to provide a quantitative framework for the preparation of plans, and formulation of policies affecting the labor market.

Specifically, the survey is designed to provide statistics on levels and trends of employment, unemployment and underemployment for the country, as a whole, and for each of the administrative regions.

c. Scope and Coverage

With regions as domain, survey operations for January 2021 LFS ran from 08 to 30 January 2021, and covered 44,627 eligible sample households.

Overseas Filipino Workers are not considered part of the labor force in the Philippines.  Hence, in the LFS, data on economic characteristics of household members who are overseas workers are not collected.  In the LFS report, they are excluded in the estimation of the size of working population, i.e. population aged 15 years and older, and in the estimation of the labor force.

d. Developments in the LFS


The LFS, as in any survey, adopts recent developments in statistical methodology/processes and in the education system. The revisions in the LFS are as follows:



II. Concepts and Definitions

a. Reference Period
The reference period for this survey is the “past week” referring to the past seven (7) days preceding the date of visit of the enumerator or the interviewer.

b. Employment Status Concepts

1. Population 15 Years Old and Over

This refers to number of population 15 years old and over excluding overseas workers.  Overseas workers are excluded in the estimation of the size of working population (population aged 15 years and over) since the data on their economic characteristics are not collected because they are not considered part of the labor force in the country.

2. In the Labor Force or Economically Active Population

This refers to persons 15 years old and over who are either employed or unemployed in accordance with the definitions described below.

3. Employed

Employed persons include all those who, during the reference period are 15 years old and over as of their last birthday, and are reported either:

a. At work, i.e., those who do any work even for one hour during the reference period for pay or profit, or work without pay on the farm or business enterprise operated by a member of the same household related by blood, marriage or adoption; or

b. With a job but not at work, i.e., those who have a job or business but are not at work because of temporary illness or injury, vacation or other reasons.  Likewise,  persons  who  expect  to  report  for  work  or to start operation of a farm or business enterprise within two weeks from the date of the enumerator’s visit are considered employed.

4. Underemployed

Underemployed persons include all employed persons who express the desire to have additional hours of work in their present job, or an additional job, or to have a new job with longer working hours. Visibly underemployed persons are those who work for less than 40 hours during the reference period and want additional hours of work.

5. Unemployed

Starting April 2005, the new unemployment definition was adopted per NSCB Resolution Number 15 dated October 20, 2004.  As indicated in the said resolution:

Unemployed persons include all those who, during the reference period, are 15 years old and over as of their last birthday, and reported as persons:

a)  Without work, i.e., had no job or business during the reference period;

b)  Currently available for work, i.e., were available and willing to take up work in paid employment or self-employment during the reference period, and/or would be available and willing to take up work in paid employment or self-employment within two weeks after the interview date; and

c)  Seeking work, i.e., had taken specific steps to look for a job or establish a business during the reference period, or

d)  Not seeking work due to the following reasons: (1) fatigued or believed no work available, i.e., discouraged workers; (2) awaiting results of previous job application; (3) temporary illness or disability; (4) bad weather; and/or (5) waiting for rehire or job recall.

6. Persons Not in the Labor Force

Persons 15 years old and over who are neither employed nor unemployed according to the definitions mentioned. Those not in the labor force are persons who are not looking for work because of reasons such as housekeeping, schooling and permanent disability. Examples are housewives, students, persons with disability, or retired persons.

III.  Sampling Design and Estimation Methodology

The LFS, being a household-based survey, used the 2013 Master Sample (MS) design of which 4 replicates equivalent to a total of 42,768 Secondary sampling Units (SSUs) or sample housing units were included as samples. Using a two-stage cluster sampling design, EAs/barangays were selected at the initial sampling stage as the primary sampling units (PSUs), while the housing units within the selected PSUs are selected as the secondary sampling units (SSUs). Generally, all households within the sample housing unit are also considered as sample households. However, for housing unit with more than three (3) households, a maximum of three (3) sample households were randomly selected.

Sampling Frame

The 2013 MS sampling frame was constructed based on the results of the 2015 Population Census. The EA Reference File (EARF) of the 2015 Census of Population was used as the PSU frame while the 2015 list of households for each of the PSUs were used as the SSU frame.

Sampling Domain

To provide subnational or provincial level statistics with precise estimates, the 2013 MS has 117 major domains as follows: 81 provinces (including the newly created province Davao Occidental); 33 highly urbanized cities (including 16 cities in the National Capital Region); and 3 other areas (Pateros, Isabela City, and Cotabato City).

Primary Sampling Units

In the 2013 Master Sample Design, each sampling domain (i.e., province/HUC) is divided into exhaustive and non-overlapping area segments known as Primary Sampling Units (PSUs) with about 100 to 400 households. Thus, a PSU can be a barangay/Enumeration Area (EA) or a portion of a large barangay, or two or more adjacent small barangays/EAs.



The PSUs are then ordered according to the following: (1) North-South/West-East Geographic location; (2) Decreasing Proportion of HHs with Overseas Worker; and (3) Decreasing wealth Index.


Four replicates are used in all 117 sampling domains. A replicate is composed of ordered list of PSUs. Most of the provinces, that is, 75 out of 81, has six PSUs per replicate while in HUCs, eight PSUs form a replicate. Small domains such as Guimaras, Siquijor, Camiguin, Apayao, and Dinagat Islands had three PSUs per replicate.

Sample Allocation Scheme

A total of four sample replicates were allotted. However, the total number of sample SSUs was allotted proportionately to the measure of size of the PSU.  Thus, a PSU with only 100 HHs had less number of sample HHs than PSUs with 400 HHs but, on the average, there were 12 sample HHs allotted for each PSU in Highly Urbanized Cities (HUCs) and an average of 16 sample HHs for every PSU in the province

A total national sample of 42,768 sample HHs was allotted for the quarterly rounds of the LFS.



Base weight computation

The base weight is computed as the inverse of selection probability

                                                   Formula 1


Formula 2


Base Weight Adjustment

The base weight was adjusted for unit non-response and was further calibrated to conform to the known or projected population count. The projected population count used was November 2019.

For unit non-response adjustment (within domain p), the adjustment was computed as:

Formula 3


Formula 4


Formula 5


Estimation of Sampling Error

Sampling error is usually measured in terms of the standard error for a particular statistic (mean, percentage, etc.), which is the square root of the variance.

If the sample had been selected as a simple random sample, it would have been possible to use straightforward formulas for calculating sampling errors. However, the LFS is the result of a multi-stage design, and it was necessary to use more complex formulas.

Sampling errors are computed using statistical programs. These statistical programs use the Taylor linearization method to estimate variances for survey estimates that are means, proportions, or ratios.

The Taylor linearization method treats any percentage or average as a ratio estimate, r=y/x, where y represents the total sample value for variable y, and x represents the total number of cases in the group or subgroup under consideration. The variance of r is computed using the formula given below, with the standard error being the square root of the variance:

Formula 6


In the LFS, the 117 province/HUC domains are also treated as natural stratification while the primary sampling units (PSUs) are treated as clusters.

Data Checking, Coding and Filtering Prior to Estimation of Proportions

Enumeration is a highly complex operation, and it may happen that reported/encoded entries during data collection may have some omissions, and implausible/inconsistent entries.  Editing is a process meant to correct these errors.

During the interview, embedded editing was activated and errors/inconsistent entries were detected by the program. Editing was also done using Computer Aided Field Editing (CAFE) program after every interviewed household to ensure completeness and consistency of encoded entries. For monitoring of the status of data collection, LFS raw data from the tablet is uploaded to the PSA Central Office server as soon as the interview of a household/EA was completed.

Review and verification of the PSOC and PSIC codes and invalid values for LFS data items were done in the provincial office using the LFS Information System (LFS IS).

Further processing in the regional office such as ID validation, and completeness check, edit and matching of LFS sample households with the original List from Master Sample (MS) Form 6 were done to ensure that the number of household listed was fully covered.

Preliminary, and final tabulations of data were done at the PSA Central Office.


IV. Dissemination of Results

The October 2020 LFS preliminary results press release, and the statistical tables are publicly available at the PSA website www.psa.gov.ph. The final estimates of the October 2020 LFS will be released through the following:

• Special Releases, six months after the data collection; and
• ISH Bulletin, 10 months after the data collection.

V. Contact Information

For technical concerns, you may contact the following PSA focal persons:

Assistant National Statistician
Social Sector Statistics Service
Sectoral Statistics Office
Philippine Statistics Authority
Email address: wilms038@yahoo.com; cc: ssss.oans@gmail.com
Telephone: (632) 8376-1883

Chief Statistical Specialist
Income and Employment Statistics Division
Social Sector Statistics Service
Sectoral Statistics Office
Philippine Statistics Authority
Email address: psa.iesd.staff@psa.gov.ph; cc: m.viernes@psa.gov.ph
Telephone: (632) 8376-2092

For data requests, you may contact PSA focal person:

Knowledge Management and Communications Division
Information Technology and Dissemination Service
Censuses and Technical Coordination Office
Philippine Statistics Authority
Email: info@psa.gov.ph; cc: kmcd.staff@psa.gov.ph
Telephone: (632) 8462-6600 local 839