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Market Insights Salary trends 2020 Year-end review: Job market trends, specializations and salaries
2020 Year-end review: Job market trends, specializations and salaries

2020 Year-end review: Job market trends, specializations and salaries

As part of our ongoing commitment to you as your trusted Talent Partner, we welcome 2021 with an in-depth review of the year that was. We take a look at the goings-on in the economic and labor market, an assessment on the specializations, industries and compensation that were in demand and were on the rise, and a sneak peek into the year that is.

2020 Philippine Economic Outlook

After what was declared a strong 2019, economy and business experts expected the same trends to carry over in 2020. According to Xinhua News, Philippine Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia predicted a projected growth of 6 to 6.5% between 2020 to 2022. In terms of labor, employment was one of the highest recorded with 94.9% in 2019 versus 94.7% in 2018. According to Carl Asuncion, UnionBank of the Philippines, Inc.’s Chief Economist, he forecasted a continual decline in unemployment once 2020 hits.

However, two unprecedented tragedies befell the country in the first quarter, rendering these predictions moot, with the second tragedy still ongoing. The fallback from these occurrences resulted in regressive results, a downturn in the economy and unemployment rates rising. According to a mid-year report published in Bloomberg, the Philippines is undergoing a recession period and its GDP shrunk to 16.5% less than that of 2019. Such unfortunate backslides resulted from the sharp decline in tourism, consumer spending, and other regressive changes surrounding the major industries.

How exactly did the COVID-19 pandemic affect the labor force?

2020 Job Market Outlook

Compared with December 2019’s strong 94% employment rate, December 2020 ended with 91%. It was a slightly optimistic turnout, considering that Q2 suffered a sharp decline at 82.32% between the months of April to July.

While the employment rate was still above average for a challenging year, 2020 had its fair share of progressive and regressive job opportunities:

Declined Jobs

There was a 30% decline in jobs overall in 2020 versus 2019. A further breakdown reports that 44% of local jobs declined and 14% of overseas jobs dropped.

Of the 44%, the majority of the drop in jobs come from the National Capital Region at 39%, followed by Central Visayas (32%) and the Ilocos Region (18%).


Call centers and BPOs, the most resilient industries in the country, were unable to elude the economic effects brought about by the pandemic. Travel restrictions and prohibitions due to this have greatly affected global outsourcing and were thus badly hit. The tourism sector, food and beverage, and retail also greatly suffered mainly because they were among the businesses that were mandated to shut down.

Recovered Jobs

But despite the pessimistic end results, there was a slight recovery in Q3 with a 3% growth versus Q2. While Luzon and Visayas were more negatively affected, parts of Mindanao showed positive trends in their job market, specifically in ARMM (67%), Davao (60%) and Northern Mindanao (46%).

Despite the ongoing pandemic, the relaxing of quarantine protocols positively contributed to the market re-opening towards the tail-end of 2020. Coupled with safety protocols put in place and the DOT’s push campaign for local travel, businesses in the sectors of F&B, Sales, Merchandising, Aviation and Hotel/Tourism saw a spike in guests and customers.


The Rundown: Top 5 In-Demand Industries and Specializations* for Candidates

* All data provided below are based on jobs advertised on JobStreet, with percentages based on December 2020 figures.


Despite a very uncertain year, the workforce saw a change and surge in certain labor areas and therefore more chances for citizens to participate and find work opportunities.

According to JobStreet’s 2020 Q4 report, the BPO, Call Center and IT-Enabled Services sector still tops the industry list in 2020, due to the sector’s ability to handle business in a contactless manner, followed by the Government, and Human Resources Management. The decline in industry growth is reflective of the economic recession because of the pandemic.



On the other hand, our report shows the number of specializations that were in demand during Q4 of 2020. Customer Service tops the list, followed by education, and security / armed forces.

Based on our job report, we have divided the specializations accordingly based on candidates who are looking for work, the first being candidates who last updated their JobStreet profile and jobseekers who are new to the working world.

Specializations of Candidates Looking For Work


As reflected in the table here, there has been a growth surge in the last quarter of 2020 in terms of jobseekers who have updated their profiles in the above industries. This means that there is a demand from candidates to pursue careers in these fields.

Looking to 2021, the future

The predictions remain hopeful for the year to come. Asian Development Bank reports that the GDP is expected to soar by 6.5%. In a story published by Philippine Daily Inquirer, BPI’s Lead Economist Emilio Neri, Jr. shares that the unemployment rate could further decrease by 7%.

Based on the recovery data from 2020 and the ongoing relaxation of the protocols, it is likely that the upward trend will continue for most businesses as the market re-opens. Even if call centers received the brunt of job decline in the first half of the year, it closed the year as the highest recovered sector in the country.

Q3 also saw the resurgence of the following industries: Biotechnology, Pharmacy, Merchandising, F&B/Restaurant and Sales. On the other hand, Aviation/Aircraft, Hotel/Tourism services and Banking/Finance jobs rose in Q4. The tourism sector could also receive improvement marks in terms of job demand due to the re-introduction of the domestic market.

Such projections come from taking into considerations the steady improvement of the pandemic and the vaccine availability plans that are being set into motion.

The shifts brought about by COVID-19 have definitely done a number on the workforce in the country, as it has for the rest of the world. But know that opportunities still arise despite the fluidity, and therefore a lot of chances can still come around for the #JobsThatMatter.

Start the new year right by providing opportunities for #JobsThatMatter and finding the right candidates with Talent Search. Access one of the largest databases in Southeast Asia and use machine learning to find the right person for the right job. For expert insights on employee trends, talent acquisition, and talent management, visit our Laws of Attraction portal.

At JobStreet, we believe in bringing you #JobsThatMatter. As a Career Partner, we are committed to helping all jobseekers find passion and purpose in every career choice. And as the number 1 Talent Partner in Asia, we connect employers with the right candidates who truly make a positive and lasting impact on the organization. 

Discover Jobs That Matter. Visit JobStreet today.

About SEEK Asia

SEEK Asia, a combination of two leading brands JobStreet and JobsDB, is the leading job portal and Asia's preferred destination for candidates and hirers. SEEK Asia’s presence span across 7 countries namely Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Philippines and Vietnam. SEEK Asia is part of the Australian Securities Exchange-listed SEEK Limited Company, the world's largest job portal by market capitalization. SEEK Asia attracts over 400 million visits a year.

About SEEK Limited

SEEK is a diverse group of companies, comprising a strong portfolio of online employment, educational, commercial and volunteer businesses. SEEK has a global presence (including Australia, New Zealand, China, Hong Kong, South-East Asia, Brazil and Mexico), with exposure to over 2.9 billion people and approximately 27 per cent of global GDP. SEEK makes a positive contribution to people’s lives on a global scale. SEEK is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange, where it is a top 100 company and has been listed in the Top 20 Most Innovative Companies by Forbes.

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