September 05, 2018 at 08:35 pm
Julito G. Rada
Unemployment rate declined to 5.4 percent in July from 5.6 percent a year ago, as the labor force added nearly half a million workers this year, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority show.
“This is one of the lowest unemployment rates recorded for all surveys conducted in the July rounds since 2008,” the National Economic and Development Authority said.
The Labor Force Survey of the PSA showed that employment rate improved to 94.6 percent in July from 94.4 percent in the same month last year. It said the country recorded a net employment of 488,000, bringing the total employment to 40.7 million in July.
“An average of 1.17 million additional employment has been created so far in the first three rounds of the Labor Force Survey. And this puts the government on track in meeting its target of 900,000 to 1.1 million employment generation for 2018,” Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said in a statement.
“With remarkable improvements, the government should not let up on its efforts to continually improve the employment situation in the country,” he said.
The services sector accounted for more than half of the country’s total employment, contributing additional employment of more than 1.1 million.
The industry sector also recorded positive employment growth of 2.2 percent, or 172, 000 additional employment. Among industry sub-sectors, the manufacturing sector contributed the largest during the period.
The shares of industry and manufacturing to total employment at 19.4 percent and 9.0 percent, respectively, were the highest in a decade. This is consistent with the strong expansion plans of manufacturing firms as a result of a more positive employment outlook for the period.
However, youth unemployment remained relatively high at 14.1 percent. “The share of inactive youth remains a concern. The government must equip students with industry-relevant competencies as well as increase their opportunities for work experience. A stronger academe-industry linkage should orient students better on career prospects,” Pernia said. Julito G. Rada
Meanwhile, underemployment―or full-time workers who seek additional hours of work― increased to 17.2 percent or an estimated 7 million workers in July 2018. This is higher compared to the 16.3 percent or about 6.5 million underemployed workers in July 2017.
“In order to meet our employment targets, government should provide an environment that is conducive to creating more and better jobs. It should prioritize policies and programs that address the issues of unutilized youth, unemployed youth, underemployment, and vulnerable workers,” Pernia said.
Pernia said that poor low-skilled workers should have access to education and skills development programs that would provide lifelong learning opportunities and that would respond to the changing needs of the labor market, especially in the context of disruptive technologies.
He also pushed for the reform of labor laws to provide better social protection to workers, while also improving labor market flexibility to maintain competitiveness and create more jobs.
“This package of reforms should include unemployment insurance as an additional safety net and an important complement to labor market flexibility,” Pernia said.
“In other words, we need to keep the labor market agile such that more workers and employers can take better advantage of growth opportunities, while still looking after our workers’ welfare,” he said.