Unemployment rate climbed to 6.6 percent in January from 5.7 percent a year ago, as more than 1.3 million jobs were lost mainly because of natural calamities, the government said Tuesday.
Results of the January 2017 Labor Force Survey of the Philippine Statistics Authority showed the country’s employment rate declined to 93.4 percent in January from 94.3 percent a year ago. This translated into 39.3 million employed Filipinos, which was 1.34 million or 3.3 percent lower than in January 2016.
“We mainly observe the employment losses in the agriculture sector, which has been greatly affected by typhoons Nina and Auring that hit our country last December and January,” National Economic and Development Authority director-general Ernesto Pernia said in a statement.
Pernia said the agriculture sector shed 882,000 workers or two-thirds of the employment losses.
“The government must focus interventions to diversify the sources of income of our workers in the agriculture sector, increase labor participation of women, and address youth unemployment and underutilization,” Pernia said.
Underemployment, which refers to those who are working but wanted more work, improved to 16.3 percent from last year’s 19.7 percent. This was the lowest underemployment rate recorded since 2006.
Neda said the increase in unemployment rate was also partly due to the temporary election-related jobs. This was also observed in January 2011, a year that followed the 2010 elections.
“The prospects for job generation may be enhanced with the long pipeline of infrastructure projects for implementation on a 24/7 work mode basis under the current administration,” Pernia said.
Pernia said as several of these projects were going to be foreign-funded, the government should see to it that foreign contractors were made to agree to recruit technical and blue-color workers in the domestic labor market.
“Critical interventions to address youth unemployment are enumerated in the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022, particularly to reduce the number of the youth who are neither studying nor employed nor in training,” Pernia said.
He said scholarships and strengthening of linkages with vocational and technical schools and state universities/colleges offering TVET programs would provide access to a greater number of trainees.
“Policy and regulatory changes can also adversely affect employment. Government must continue skills development and retooling programs through continuing education and training for the affected workers, and adjust policies where warranted,” said Pernia.