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Bicol’s labor force now recovering from COVID-19

By Marlon Atun

LEGAZPI CITY --- The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Region 5 recently released the 2022 Annual Regional Economic Situationer (RES) for Bicol Region, showing continued economic recovery as the report showed a higher average labor force participation and employment rate, as well as a lower average underemployment rate, compared to 2021.

The average labor force participation rate increased to 60.1 percent from 59.7 percent in 2021, while the average employment rate increased to 94.1 percent from 91.2 percent in 2021. In addition, the average underemployment rate also decreased to 21.6 percent from 25.6 percent in 2021.

Labor Force Survey results for 2022 showed a significant improvement in Bicol’s labor market situation as there was an increase from 2.40 million Bicolanos in 2021 to 2.45 million Bicolanos in 2022. The average unemployment rate also dropped from 8.8 percent in 2021 to 5.9 percent in 2022.

This improvement was a result of various job opportunities offered through job fairs, internships, and flagship programs implemented by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in collaboration with local government units (LGUs) and participating private and government agencies.

Opening commercial establishments, such as SM City Sorsogon, and the Bicol International Airport, has also contributed to more employment opportunities for Bicolanos.

Moreover, Bicol International Airport has attracted investors and entrepreneurs to set up shop inside the passenger terminal building and within the airport premises. Though the airport has yet to serve inbound and outbound international flights, it has already made a positive impact on the local economy.

Looking ahead to 2023, the Bicol region is set to implement its Regional Development Plan from 2023 to 2028, focusing on job creation and poverty reduction.

Plans include enhancing local farm production through the Masagana Rice Program, establishing more production gardens and small-scale irrigation projects, and launching the Gulayan Sa Barangay program.

The region will also implement the INSPIRE program to improve livestock and poultry production, establish techno demo, model farms, feed mills, and aquaculture equipment distribution to increase fishery production as the continued easing of travel restrictions is also expected to further expand the tourism and services sector in 2023.

Overall, the data from the Philippine Statistics Authority indicated that Bicol’s labor market situation has significantly improved in 2022, giving hope for a better economic outlook in the coming years. (PIA5/MBAtun/MCAPielago)


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