By John Ezekiel J. Hirro

More than four million Filipinos were jobless as of April 2021, when the government imposed more stringent quarantine protocols due to a surge in Covid-19 cases, the Philippine Statistics Authority has found.

The April unemployment rate was 8.7 percent, 1.6 percentage points higher than the March rate of 6.1 percent.

NCR-Plus—composed of Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal—was placed under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) from March 29 until April 11 and modified ECQ (MECQ) from April 12 to 30.

Metro Manila had the highest unemployment rate in April at 14.4 percent or 875,000 jobless Filipinos.

In April last year, one month into the government-imposed community quarantines, the national unemployment was at 17.7 percent or 7.3 million jobless Filipinos.

Palace spokesman Harry Roque said the rise in unemployment was expected due to the imposition of more stringent lockdowns.

“Hindi po nakakapagtaka kung bakit tumaas muli ang unemployment rate kasi tatlong buwan po tayo nag-ECQ, MECQ at general community quarantine with restrictions. Pero kinakailangan naman po iyan to achieve total health, na masigurado na minimize poverty at the same time control the dramatic in rise in cases dahil nga po sa mga new variants,” he said in a virtual presser.

“Ang istratehiya naman po natin unang-una is tangkain na ikontrol nga ang disease na ito para lalo tayong makapagbukas ng ekonomiya,” he added.

The Philippines has recorded 1,280,773 Covid-19 cases, with 22,064 fatalities.