Employment turnover stabilizes in second half of 2020

EMPLOYMENT TURNOVER in large Metro Manila companies dipped in the fourth quarter of 2020 after a flat performance a quarter earlier, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said.

The PSA said its Labor Turnover Survey returned a turnover rate of 0.1% in the third quarter and minus 0.3% in the fourth quarter of 2020.

In the first half, the turnover rates were minus 1.4% in the first quarter and minus 7.6% in the second, just before the onset of, and at the height of the pandemic lockdowns, respectively.

The turnover rate in the third quarter is equivalent to one hire for every 1,000 persons employed in large companies based in the National Capital Region (NCR). In the fourth quarter, the negative turnover rate translates to a reduction of three workers for every 1,000 employed individuals.

The labor turnover rate is the difference between the rate of hiring (accession) and the rate of job termination or resignation (separation).

Accession rates — which represent hiring by employers to either replace former employees or expand their workforce — stood at 8% and 4.8% in the third and fourth quarter, respectively, against 9.3% and 4.4% in the first and second quarters.

Separation rates were lower in the second half compared with the double-digit levels posted in the first half. The PSA recorded a 7.9% separation rate in the third quarter and 5.2% in the fourth.

Only services posted a net employment gain, of 1.9%, in the third quarter. The segment had a minus 0.2% turnover rate in the fourth quarter.

Industry turnover rates were minus 6.1% and minus 0.7% in the third and fourth quarters, respectively.

Agriculture, forestry, and fishing turnover rates were flat in the third quarter, surging however to minus 8.3% in the fourth.

In the fourth quarter, the PSA survey tallied 94,498 job vacancies in NCR-based establishments, up from the 48,331 unfilled positions in the third quarter.

These vacancies were highest in the services sector, which accounted for 95.2% of the total, or 89,990 openings. Vacancies in industry and agriculture accounted for 4.7% (4,462) and 0.05% (46) of vacancies respectively.

Vacancies were 63,888 in the second quarter of 2020 and 85,426 in the first.

Vacancies were highest in the services sector during the first half, which accounting for 91.3% of the total, or 58,307 openings. The share of the industry sector was 8.6% (5,522) while that of agriculture, forestry and fishing was 0.1% (58).

Employers mostly looked to fill in slots for clerical support workers (51.6% of job vacancies); professionals (21.7%); technicians and associate professionals (8.8%); service and sales workers (4.8%); and elementary occupations (4.7%).

“There is no other reason for the labor statistics fluctuations in that period aside from the pandemic, and as firms slowly adapted to alternative work arrangements amid looser restrictions, we saw the labor market improve,” Security Bank Corp. Chief Economist Robert Dan J. Roces said in an e-mail.

However, he cautioned that these statistics may be “a bit deceptive.”

Mr. Roces said the extent of the recovery in the labor market will vary, with some firms proving to be resilient and some lagging.

“Significant downside risks remain with the presence of the Delta variant of COVID-19 and the threat of reimposed stricter lockdowns, thus there is still some degree of caution in terms of the stability of the employment and income capacity of people and firms,” he said.

“Pre-pandemic labor market conditions could thus be possible only by the second half of 2022,” he added.

The labor turnover survey’s sample was 16,793 establishments in NCR employing at least 20 workers, as registered in the 2019 List of Establishments. — Abigail Marie P. Yraola

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