Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Wednesday said the Philippine Statistics Authority’s (PSA) tally of 7.3-million jobless Filipinos in April 2020, a record high, was not “actual nor factual,” and the current number of unemployed Filipinos stood at 69,022.

In Wednesday’s Laging Handa briefing, Bello said the 69,022 workers were employed in 2,068 firms.

“Iyong 17.3 million… hindi actual iyan, kasi kung tutuusin ang actual number of unemployed ay umaabot lamang po sa 69,000 at ang mga nagsabi na nagsara sila ay 2,068 companies o employers. Iyon pong 7.3 million ay survey pa lang po iyan, hindi pa po iyan actual o factual,” Bello said.

The PSA’s data is based on the quarterly Labor Force Survey, which measures the number of jobless as a proportion of the labor force.

To be unemployed means a person is at least 15 years old and reported as without work and willing to work, and seeking work.

The official definition of being “employed” is actually broad. It means a person has work and has done “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.”

Also considered employed is a person with a job but not at work, for reasons such as temporary illness or injury and vacation. “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,” according to the PSA.

Bello also said the labor department was working on an extension of the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (Tupad) program from the original 10 days to three to six months of emergency employment to informal workers.

Wage subsidies will be given to employers to “preserve employment.”

“Our proposal is to give all employers a range of 25 to 50-percent subsidy … provided na hindi sila magtatanggal ng empleyado nila at kung maaari ay dadagdag sila ng empleyado, he said.

PSA recorded an all-time high 17.7 percent unemployment rate in the country last April, which the agency attributed to the lockdowns caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Palace spokesman Harry Roque previously said of the PSA tally: “We are saddened – albeit unsurprised.”

“This is an obvious effect of the economic shutdown when the entire Luzon area was in an enhanced community quarantine where most businesses were closed and many people were out of work and stayed at home,” Roque said., John Ezekiel J. Hirro