Philippines Labor Market

Agriculture, forestry and fishing still employ just under a third of the workforce. More than 15 percent of Filipinos work in the industry, but most of the workforce is now found in the service sector. An increasing proportion of the population work in the so-called informal sector.

In 2013, unemployment was officially at just over 6 percent, but many Filipinos are underemployed. According to national statistics, almost one in five workers were underemployed in 2013. Although the number of jobs has increased, unemployment is rising as so many young Filipinos come out to the labor market every year.

  • According to ABBREVIATIONFINDER, PHL stands for the country of Philippines in geography.

Every year, around one million Filipinos leave the country to work abroad, either temporarily or permanently. The Filipino guest workers (balikbayans), are found mainly in the Middle East, various Asian countries, North America, Europe and Australia. Many of the emigrants are women who, despite their college education, work as maids or English teachers. Every fourth sailor in the world comes from the Philippines. Many also work in the construction industry or the financial sector. Philippine nurses are sought after in the United Kingdom and the United States (200,000 Filipinos are estimated to take a nursing degree per year).

In 2011, the Philippines blacklisted 41 countries that were not considered to be doing enough to protect foreign guest workers. Afghanistan, Sudan, Iraq, Libya, North Korea and Pakistan were among the countries on the list.

There are minimum wages set by regional committees and therefore differ between different parts of the country. However, wages are often so low that even those who have work fall below the poverty line (see Social Conditions) and it is common for employers to pay less than they should. In 2012, the maids and others who are employed received the right to minimum wages.

Women usually earn significantly less than men. In the industry, there are 48 hours a week, in the public sector you work 40 hours. Although there are many laws protecting workers, they often do not work in practice.

  • COUNTRYAAH: List of key population facts of Philippines, covering most basic population data, religion statistics, and language profiles.

Philippines Population

In September 2014, a proposal was introduced to introduce a four-day week for public employees in Manila. It meant working days of 10 hours. Employees could choose whether they want to work Monday through Thursday or Tuesday through Friday. It was also hoped that this would reduce traffic in the metropolitan area. Due to queues, many people are stuck in traffic for hours when they need to get to work.

Only about one in ten employees are unionized (some sources state 5 percent). Some unions also organize people working in the informal sector. The trade union movement is weakened by the fact that it is politically divided. There are dozens of trade union organizations. The largest of them is the right-wing Katipunang Manggagawang Pilipino (KMP-TUCP). Among the largest trade unions on the left are the more reform-oriented Association of Filipino Workers (BMP) and the more radical National Confederation of Labor (NCL). Soldiers and police are not allowed to form unions. A new network of trade unions, Nagkaisa, was formed in 2012. Another new trade union group on the left is Sentro.

Harassment and threats to union activists are commonplace and many union leaders have been murdered. In factories in the so-called export zones, many temporary employees are not allowed to organize themselves. However, it is common for many to be re-hired when their contract expires. Other employees are prevented by local politicians from being unionized.

Strikes are allowed, but can be interrupted by both the President and the Minister of Labor.

Forced labor is prohibited, but occurs.

Since 2003, child labor has been prohibited by law. Many children still work, most in the countryside or in the informal sector. According to the government’s own figures, in 2011 it was about five million children, of which about three million are employed in activities where they risk their health. Many young girls work as maids. In 2012, the government launched a campaign to combat child labor. However, in the devastation that followed the typhoon Haiyan in 2013, it became more common for children to work in the affected villages.



2.4 percent (2019)

Youth Unemployment

6.8 percent (2019)



At least 180 dead in tropical storm on Mindanao

December 23

At least 180 people are reported to have died when a tropical storm, Tembin, caused flooding and landslides in Minadanao. Further people are missing. Particularly hard hit are the cities of Tubod and Piagapo.

Tax reform clear sign

December 14

Congress is enacting a reform to raise taxes on coal, cars, gasoline and other oil products, soft drinks and beauty operations. The money that comes in will, among other things, be invested in improving the country’s roads, railways and internet connections.

The state of emergency at Mindanao is extended for one year

13th of December

The state of emergency on the island of Mindanao is extended until the end of 2018 after both congresses voted by the Congress with an overwhelming majority. In addition to the violence from domestic insurgency movements, the government fears that foreign jihadists will enter the area.

Police take on new responsibility for “war on drugs”

December 5

The police are again given responsibility for the fight against drugs in the Philippines. According to President Duterte, the decision is made because the drug offenses increased during the two months that have passed since the anti-drug authority PDEA took over the task. Since Duterte came to power in the summer of 2016, about 4,000 people have been killed by police in connection with the “war on drugs”.

Duterte sharpens the tone of the communist movement

December 5

President Duterte decides that the Communist Party CPP and its armed branch NPA should be seen as terrorist organizations. In order to gain legal force, his decision must also be approved by a court. Both the CPP and the NPA have been on the US list of terrorist groups since 2002.

Investigation is initiated by vaccination program against dengue fever

December 4th

The Philippines cancels the vaccination program of up to one million children against dengue fever that began in 2016. At the same time, it is decided to launch an investigation of the entire program. This happens after the French pharmaceutical company Sanofi has warned that there is a risk that children who have been vaccinated and who had not previously been infected by the virus would get a particularly serious variant of the disease. The program was launched by the then Minister of Health Janette Garin, who according to the Reuters news agency did not listen to her local expert group who recommended a more cautious line because the vaccine was not adequately evaluated and that it was not possible to determine if it was cost-effective. About 1,000 people died as a result of dengue fever in 2016. A representative of Sanofi says that as far as the company knows, no person has died in the Philippines as a result of the vaccine.


Duterte interrupts attempts to broker peace with the NPA

November 22

President Duterte interrupts attempts to broker peace with the Communist guerrilla NPA and says all calls are now suspended. He says in a speech that he is also considering stamping the NPA as a terrorist organization after the NPA targeted several attacks against police and military. It is not clear whether any new consultations were planned.

Clear sign for new contraceptives

November 16

51 new contraceptives will now be available to the Filipinos. This happens after the Food and Drug Authority has given its clear sign. The Supreme Court in 2015 introduced a temporary stop for some contraceptives to make sure that they could not function as abortion pills.

Amnesty accuses the military of abuse

November 17

Philippine forces captured and tortured civilians who managed to escape from the city of Marawi, which in May 2017 was captured by militant Islamists. This is what Amnesty International claims in a report. The human rights organization calls on the Philippine government to investigate the charges. The military is also accused of stealing TVs, computers, antiques and money from private homes, according to the report. A military spokesman, Restituto Padilla, says it is about isolated cases of abuse and that investigations are ongoing against a commander and five soldiers suspected of theft of equipment. Since the siege began in May, 1,100 people have been killed, 900 of them Islamist rebels, hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to flee and large parts of the city have been destroyed.

Duterte thanks China for support

November 15

President Duterte expresses his gratitude to China for providing the Philippines with weapons to fight the militant Islamists who besieged the city of Marawi in Mindanao earlier this year. It happens in conjunction with Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang visiting the country. Duterte also says that in the future, the Philippines may show its gratitude for the money it received for public works, bridges and more. Both China and the United States and Australia have pledged support for the rebuilding of Marawi.

Duterte “offended” by Trudeau’s MR criticism

November 14

Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau visits the Philippines in connection with a summit of ASEAN and says he discussed human rights issues with President Rodrigo Duterte. At a press conference later, Duterte said he is only responsible to the Filipino people and that he saw Trudeau’s speech as a personal insult. Trudeau, for his part, described the meeting with Duterte as “cordial”.

Trump is visiting the Philippines

November 13

US President Donald Trump visits the Philippines, which is a stop on his tour of Asia. It is unclear whether Trump addresses human rights issues during his talks with President Duterte. In Manila, police are deploying water cannons to protesters protesting Trump’s visit. The day before, the Philippines and nine other Southeast Asian countries have signed a free trade agreement with Hong Kong.

Philippine island building is halted after pressure from China

November 8

After pressure from China, the Philippines decides to suspend the construction of a shack on a sandy reef near the island of Thitu in the South China Sea. Both the Philippines and China claim the island.

Prosecution is brought against ex-President Aquino

November 8

The Ombudsman for Corruption is prosecuting former President Benigno Aquino. These include deficiencies in the handling of a raid against Muslim separatists that cost the lives of 44 policemen (see January 2015) because he allowed a suspended police chief to participate in the planning of the raid. Among the charges are also bribery and corruption.


The Philippines and Russia conclude military cooperation agreements

October 25th

As a result of closer relations, Russia and the Philippines sign two agreements on military cooperation. This is in connection with a visit by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shujgu in Manila. Russia also hands over 20 army vehicles and 5,000 rifles to the country’s army, which is in great need of new equipment.

The siege of Marawi over

October 23

The Philippine military now claims to have finally taken control of the city of Marawi in Mindanao, which since May (see May 2017) has been besieged by Islamists. According to official data, 920 rebels, 165 government soldiers and at least 45 civilians have been killed during the five months of the siege. And at least 300,000 people have been forced to flee.

Islamist leader in Marawi killed by military

October 17

Two leading Islamist leaders are killed by the military in the city of Marawi, which has now been besieged for 148 days. It is about Isnilon Hapilon, from Abu Sayyaf who has been described as the Islamic State’s “emir” in Southeast Asia, and Omar Maute, from the so-called Maute group. In a speech to soldiers in Marawi, President Duterte says the city is now liberated, but according to media reports, there are still 20 to 30 rebels who continue to fight, holding some 20 civilians hostage.

Duterte criticizes the EU

October 12

President Duterte, in a number of outraged cases against the EU, accuses him of interfering with the country’s internal affairs and trying to get the Philippines expelled from the UN. He threatens to expel the EU envoy in the country. This happens after a delegation from Australia, Italy, Sweden, Germany and the US criticized his “war on drugs”. A spokesman for the EU stresses that the delegation does not come from the EU.

Police units withdrawn from “war on drugs”

October 12

President Duterte decides that the country’s police and military will no longer participate in his “war on drugs”. Instead, it will be managed by the anti-drug authority PDEA with 1,800 employees. The national police chief immediately dissolves 18 regional anti-drug units within the police. These resources will continue to be used to solve other crimes. A spokesman for the president says that the campaign will continue to focus on “the big fish”. However, appraisers point out that Duterte made similar decisions earlier, without any major changes. A number of studies have shown that many Filipinos doubt the police’s statements that suspected drug addicts and others were killed when they resisted arrest.

Duterte is still popular, but support is declining

October 9

President Duterte still has high popularity figures, but from June 2017 to September the same year, support for him fell 18 percent, to 48 percent, according to the Social Weather Survey. At the same time, the percentage of very dissatisfied people has increased from 12 percent to 19 percent. However, a poll conducted a week later suggests that Duterte still has strong support, and that nearly nine out of ten Filipinos support his war on drugs, despite the fact that many (73 percent) believe that extrajudicial executions exist.


Thousands protest against Duterte

September 21

Thousands of Filipinos gather in several parts of the Philippines to protest against Duterte’s war on drugs, his increasingly authoritarian policies, the close relations between the president and former dictator Ferdinand Marco’s family, and the approach to China. The protests are held on the same date that Marcos 45 years earlier declared a state of emergency.

Priest acquitted in military operation against Islamist rebels in Marawi

September 17th

In a military operation against the Islamist rebels who hold the city of Marawi, a Catholic priest is held hostage by the Maute group. The military also manages to push the Maute rebels further. Since May 2017, 670 rebels have been killed in Marawi, according to military figures, and 149 government soldiers have been killed in fighting. At least 47 civilians have also been killed.

Police cases dissolve after murder charges

September 15th

Manila’s police chief dissolves the entire police force, 1,200 people, in the Caloocan area of ​​Greater Manila. Four police officers have been charged with the murder of a 17-year-old student Kian Loyd Delos Santos. Two other Caloocan police officers are also suspected of murder and torture by two other teenagers, as well as having planted evidence against them. A film from security equipment has also shown how 13 policemen rob an elderly woman, under the guise of a drug raid. The police officers who are accused of crime must be prosecuted, while the others must receive new training and be transferred to other police forces.

The Human Rights Commission loses funding

September 12

The Human Rights Commission (CHR), which inter alia investigates abuses during Duterte’s war on drugs, is largely losing its entire budget. Congress grants only a grant of 1,000 pesos (which equals $ 20), compared to 749 million pesos in 2017. In connection with the House of Representatives voting for the cut, President Pantaleon Alvarez is accusing the Commission of incompetence. President Duterte’s critics in the Senate say that they should do everything they can to get the CHR back to a normal budget and that the Constitution states that there should be a human rights commission.

The president’s son is being questioned in the Senate on drug dealing

September 7

Paolo Duterte, the president’s son, is questioned by a Senate committee after allegations that he belongs to a Chinese crime syndicate smuggling methamphetamine to the Philippines from China. Paolo Duterte denies that there is anything in the charges. Duterte’s mother-in-law, Manases Carpio, the mayor of Davao City, has also been accused of involvement in drug smuggling.


The Catholic Church criticizes Duterte

22 August

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, leader of the Catholic Church in the Philippines strongly criticizes President Duterte for his brutal war on drugs. This happens after the police killed more than 80 people in just one week. Senator Francis Pangilinan had also criticized the widespread violence earlier this week: “Killing poor and powerless people is not the solution to the drug problems, when at the same time thousands of tons of methamphetamine are smuggled into the country.” The murder of Kian Delos Santos is particularly noteworthy. Images from surveillance cameras, which are published in the media, show how two police officers removed the unarmed 17-year-old shortly before he was found dead. People in Duterte’s government also make a critical statement. Among other things, says the Minister of Defense Dolphin Lorenzana that “whether Delos Santos was involved in the drug trade or not, he did not deserve to die this way”.

32 people killed in “war on drugs”

August 16th

Police kill 32 people in connection with a crackdown on drug trafficking in the province of Bulacan, north of Manila. According to police, the suspected drug snares are shot to death as it opposes the arrests. More than 100 people are arrested, and drugs and weapons are seized.

Police officers are called to kill corrupt police officers

9th of August

President Duterte demands that all the policemen he claims worked for a drug king should be arrested or killed. He promises a reward of approximately SEK 320,000 for each policeman, “dead or alive – preferably dead”. The head of the drug league, a mayor of a city in the south, was shot dead in a raid along with 15 other people.

Duterte lowers fees for higher studies

August 3rd

President Duterte signs a law that makes education at all state universities and colleges free of charge. His financial advisers have warned him that the state cannot afford that cost. The President says that the long-term benefits of the reform outweigh the short-term budgetary problems.


UN investigators report increasing violence

31 July

Three experts appointed by the United Nations report in a report that human rights violations are increasing sharply in the Philippines, including murders, threats to indigenous peoples and summary executions of children. UN investigators say they are shocked by the growing violence and the threats that are being directed at human rights activists, trade union leaders and those trying to protect their land from the expropriation of large corporations.

The US strengthens the fight against Islamists

July 26

The United States donates two surveillance plans and begins supplying weapons to support the Philippines in the fight against armed Islamists in the south. The governments of the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia discourage their citizens from visiting almost the entire southern third of the Philippines except the metropolis of Davao.

“Human rights must not interfere with the war on drugs”

July 24

In his annual speech to the nation, President Duterte promises to continue the war on drug trafficking with full force. He condemns the critics who “trivialize” his campaign through concern for human rights. He also harshly criticizes the mining companies he claims destroy the environment, and threatens to tax them “until they die” if they do not repair the damage.

Exception laws in the south year out

July 22nd

In a joint session, both congresses of Congress decide to extend the state of emergency in the Mindanao region in the south until the turn of the year to allow the security forces to crush the armed Islamists.

Duterte offers Muslims self-government

July 17

President Duterte offers the country’s Muslims autonomy in an attempt to get them not to support the Islamist group Maute, which took over the city of Marawi in Mindanao in May. Maute still controls parts of the city and the fighting has demanded over 500 lives and forced large numbers of residents to flee.

Abu Sayyaf kills two hostages

July 5

The Islamist movement Abu Sayyaf is killing two Vietnamese sailors who have been held hostage since 2016. The two men were kidnapped along with four other sailors, one of whom has been released and the other three are believed to still be held by Abu Sayyaf.

The Supreme Court approves Duterte’s state of emergency

July 4th

The Supreme Court approves President Duterte’s decision to announce state of emergency on the island of Mindanao in connection with Islamists taking the city of Marawi in May. However, the court did not fully agree. One of the 15 judges opposed the decision and three wanted it to cover a smaller part of the island. More than 400 people, most Islamist rebels, but also some 80 government soldiers and some 40 civilians, have been killed in Marawi.


Hundreds of victims in Marawi

6th June

The battles around the city of Marawi continue. About 170 people are reported to have been killed, including at least 20 civilians. Over 180,000 of the city’s residents are estimated to have moved, but civilians are still in the line of fire between the Islamist group Maute and government forces. Several have also been taken hostage by the Islamists. Witness data indicate that Maute has several hundred men (from both the Sulu Islands, which is a stronghold for Abu Sayyaf, as well as Indonesia and Malaysia). The leaders are believed to be two brothers from a leading local family and educated in the Middle East.


Duterte faces military emergency in the Mindanao region

May 23

President Duterte faces military emergency in the Mindanao region. It allows people to be detained indefinitely without trial. The state of emergency is valid for 60 days, unless it is revoked or renewed by Parliament.

Islamists occupy southern city

May 16

Militant Islamists, from a fairly unknown group of Maute, occupy parts of the city of Marawi on the island of Mindanao in the south. Maute claims to be an ally of the Islamic State (IS) terror group. According to some observers, the attack, which occurs just before the Muslim holiday of Ramadan, is a way for Maute to try to gain attention by IS, and reach a position as a regional branch of the terrorist group.

New Foreign Minister appointed

15th of May

President Duterte appoints Alan Peter Cayetano as new Foreign Minister.

Bomb attack against Shia Muslim imam

May 7

Two explosive charges detonate in a Shia Muslim imam’s office in Manila. The imam, who was probably the target of the attack, is not in place, but both the man who delivers the package with the explosive charges and the man who receives it are killed at the detonation.

Trump invites Duterte to Washington

May 1

US President Donald J Trump invites President Duterte to Washington after the White House announced that the two presidents had a “very friendly conversation”.


Duterte is reported to the ICC

April 24

A Filipino lawyer Jude Sabio reports President Duterte to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity. Sabio represents Edgar Matobato, who testified before Congress about how he belonged to a death patrol that had taken orders from Duterte, during his time as mayor of Davao. The report also contains testimony from a retired policeman, Arturo Lascanas, media reports and human rights organizations. At least 9,000 people are reported to have been killed since Duterte came to power in 2016.

Ten dead in kidnapping attempts on tourist island

April 12

Military police end up in a fire with eleven suspected members of Abu Sayyaf on the tourist island of Bohol, southern Philippines. Four police officers and six perpetrators are killed when gunfire erupts. According to the military, the group tried to carry out a mass kidnapping of tourists during the Easter weekend, but was revealed by the military and police.


The Foreign Minister is forced to resign

March 8th

Duterte’s close ally, Foreign Minister Perfecto Yasay, is forced to resign after it is revealed that he lied about having held US citizenship from 1986 until just before he was named Foreign Minister. A parliamentary commission then disapproves of Yasay as foreign minister. Duterte appoints Enrique Manalo as acting Foreign Minister.


Islamist militia executes German hostage

February 27th

Abu Sayyaf decapitates a German man who kidnapped the militia from a boat in November 2016. The execution takes place since the deadline to pay the $ 600,000 ransom expired.

Duterte critic is arrested

February 23

Senator Leila de Lima, who is one of Duterte’s top critics, is arrested and charged for receiving money from drug cartels. 2010 to 2016, they were Lima’s country’s justice minister and interns have accused her of receiving bribes so that they could continue to trade drugs in prison. Leila de Lima denies that there is anything in the charges. In August 2016, she took the initiative for the Senate to investigate the extrajudicial executions that took place under Duterte’s rule.

The Catholic Church raises the voice against the regime’s violence

February 18

About 50,000 people are demonstrating in Manila to protest against the government’s plans to reinstate the death penalty and against all extrajudicial executions that have taken place since Duterte came to power. The march is supported by the powerful Catholic Bishop’s Conference and is one of several signs that the Church no longer intends to keep silent about the abuses committed. Within the church, however, there are different views on how to act.

HD approves recalculation of the vice presidential election

February 15

The Supreme Court agrees to recalculate the votes in the vice presidential election. It is Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, the son of the former dictator of the same name, who claims to have been robbed of the election victory. The election was won by Leni Robredo with a margin of 260,000 votes.

Pirates – an increasing problem

February 12

The Islamist group Abu Sayyaf creates major problems with kidnappings in Philippine waters. Particularly vulnerable are boats moving in the Sibutu Passage between the Philippines and Malaysia. Philippine attempts to curb piracy by arming fishermen have proved insufficient, President Duterte asks China to intervene, just as the country did in the waters off Somalia’s coast.

Duterte: No peace talks with CPP / NPA

February 4th

Duterte announces that the peace talks between the government and the leftist rebels that would have been held in February will not go away. The Communist Party CCP and the NPA guerrillas say they are not prepared to give up their weapons even if a peace agreement becomes clear. They also accuse the government of attacking them with the drug war as a pretext. A few days later, a communist leader, Ariel Arbitrario, was arrested at a roadblock. He was one of several party members released in 2016 to participate in the peace talks.

The truce with NPA is broken

February 1st

The leftist guerrilla NPA announces on February 1 that it is breaking the ceasefire with the government and intends to resume the armed struggle. At the same time, NPSA makes statements that it still supports the peace process. Two days later, the government also announces that it is suspending its ceasefire. President Duterte says the guerrillas cannot expect the government to give in to its demand for hundreds of NPA prisoners to be released.

Amnesty: the drug war may be “crime against humanity”

February 1st

Amnesty International claims in a report that the police’s systematic executions in the “war on drugs” may be a ” crime against humanity “. According to various sources, it is estimated that between 7,000 and 8,000 people have been killed since July 2016.

Unclear role for the military in the “war on drugs

February 1st

In a speech to high-ranking militants, Duterte announced plans for the military to participate in his “war on drugs” and to arrest corrupt police. After that, the Department of Defense asks him to clarify what role the president wants the military to play.


Temporary stop for “war on drugs”

January 29th

Police Chief Ronald dela Rosa announces that a temporary stop will be introduced in Duterte’s war on drugs. This happened after a South Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo was kidnapped in October 2016 by people from the special anti-drug forces within the police and then killed inside the police national headquarters. These forces must now be disbanded and the police cleansed from corruption. Duterte, as previously stated that he would solve the drug problem until December, now says that his anti-drug policy will continue until his term expires in 2022.

High economic growth

January 26

New statistics show that the Philippines’ economy grew by almost 7 percent in 2016.

Free contraception is promised to six million women

January 12

The government announces that about six million women from 2018 will have access to free contraception. It is very much about poor women who would otherwise not be able to afford to buy them. The decision draws criticism from the Catholic Church and anti-abortion groups. Nor can the measure come into force until the Supreme Court, which has introduced a temporary stop for distribution of contraceptives, has decided whether it is permissible or not.

Over 150 prisoners are released on Mindanao

January 4th

In an armed attack on a prison near the city of Kidapawan in Mindanao, more than 150 prisoners are suspected of having ties to Islamist rebels.

Philippines Labor Market