PH economy quickens to 8.3% in Q1

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THE Philippine economy posted an 8.3 percent growth in the first quarter of 2022 amid the Omicron-variant threat, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported Thursday, May 12, 2022.

The main contributors to the first quarter growth were manufacturing which grew 10.1 percent; wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles at 7.3 percent; and transportation and storage at 26.5 percent.

Among the major economic sectors, agriculture, forestry and fishing, industry and services all gained during the quarter.

Agriculture, forestry and fishing grew 0.2 percent, industry grew 10.4 percent and services posted a growth of 8.6 percent.

Exceeds analyst forecast

According to Duterte’s economic managers the first quarter growth is a “significant reversal from the 3.8 percent contraction in the same period last year.”

“We have surpassed the pre-pandemic gross domestic product level,” the team said. “Growth in the first quarter exceeded the median analyst forecast of 6.7 percent, making the Philippines the fastest growing economy in the East Asia region for the period.”

On a seasonally adjusted quarter-on-quarter basis, the economy grew by 1.9 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2021.

Other economic indicators also support this recovery such as mobility and employment creation.

The unemployment rate in March 2022 fell to 5.8 percent, the lowest since the start of the pandemic. Employment creation is now at 4.4 million above the pre-pandemic level.

“We have restored many jobs and livelihood by shifting to a more endemic mindset, accelerating vaccination, and implementing granular lockdowns that only targeted the areas of highest risk while allowing the majority of our people to work and earn a living,” the team said.

On the expenditure side, growth was driven by private consumption which went up by 10.1 percent, a stark reversal from the -4.8 percent figure in the same period last year. With much relaxed quarantine restrictions and more vaccinated Filipinos, family activities, leisure, travel and tourism have all grown significantly.

Other expenditure items, such as investments and external trade, also expanded. Investments recorded a robust growth of 20 percent from -13.9 percent in 2021. Exports expanded by 10.3 percent, and imports grew by 15.6 percent.

In contrast, growth in government expenditure temporarily slowed down to 3.6 percent from 16.1 percent last year, as public construction contracted by 4.9 percent, as the election spending ban began towards the end of the first quarter.

The economic team expects both of these to accelerate in the second half of the year.

“Our strong economic performance moves us closer to achieving our growth target of seven to nine percent this year, but we will not rest on our laurels. We will continuously work hard to strengthen our domestic economy against heightened external risks such as the Russia-Ukraine conflict, China’s slowdown, and monetary normalization in the United States,” the group said.

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