MANILA, Philippines – The number of employed Filipinos increased at the start of the year, the latest Labor Force Survey (LFS) released by the Philippine Statistics Authority revealed.
According to the survey, the country’s employment rate grew from 93.4% in January 2015 to 94.2% in January 2016.
The figure is equivalent to about 39.2 million employed Filipinos, with an estimated 752,000 additional jobs generated in between the survey period. (READ: PH unemployment rate drops to record low 5.7%)
The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) also said the industry and services sectors generated 508,000 and 1.18 million jobs, respectively, contributing to the country’s employment rating improvement.
“Our labor market was boosted by better employment opportunities in the industry and services sectors. This performance also brought the unemployment rate to its second lowest in the decade, with the lowest recorded in October last year,” said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary and NEDA director-general Emmanuel Esguerra in a statement.
“With employment growing faster at 2% relative to the labor force growth of 1.1%, the number of unemployed went down by 279,000 to 2.4 million during the period,” he added.
Unemployment rate also fell to 5.8% in January 2016 from 6.6% during the same period last year, with both men and women coming from most regions, across all age groups, in almost all educational levels hired by early 2016.
“With the favorable labor market situation in January 2016 and the continued slowdown in the national unemployment rate, the Philippine Development Plan target of 6.5-6.7% for unemployment rate in 2016 is likely to be achieved,” said Esguerra.
The January 2016 LFS, however, does does not include data from Leyte province, which was heavily damaged by Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) in 2013.
Last year’s LFS did not include data from the said province as well.
Underemployment, labor force participation worsen
The labor survey showed that underemployment, however, worsened from 17.9% last year to 19.7% this year. Underemployed persons are those who are hired but who want more work.
NEDA said there are about 7.7 million underemployed Filipinos, most of whom were wage and salary workers in private establishments.
“Despite the increase in underemployment, positive results in indicators of quality of work, such as the mean hours of work, class of workers and the full-time employment, signal that efforts to foster more remunerative employment are gaining traction,” Esguerra said.
There was also a slight decline in labor force participation rate “partly due to the decision among the youth to opt out of the labor force to attend school and become full-time students.”
Labor force participation rate was 63.8% in January 2015, before slightly dipping to 63.3% the year after.
Esguerra said the government should “focus efforts on equipping students with industry-relevant competencies and skills, and increasing opportunities for work experience” to improve the employment situation in the country.
Temporary jobs due to elections
Meanwhile, labor groups attributed the improvement of the employment rating to the 2016 polls.
Trade Union Congress of the Philippines spokesperson Alan Tanjusay said both national and local candidates are getting more people to join their respective campaign teams and volunteer groups.
“We also anticipate temporary employment because more people will be hired as poll watchers. We also see the uptick of private and public construction projects (government infrastructure, power plants and high rise condominiums) as another source of employment,” said Tanjusay.
Kilusang Mayo Uno secretary-general Jerome Adonis also said this is commonly expected during the election period. He added, however, that this is “not a good sign.”
“It means that the economy has not created enough decent jobs to be immune from this trend in the few months before the elections. We have every reason to believe that unemployment will again rise after the elections. That has been the pattern in previous elections,” he said.
Tanjusay agreed, saying they predict only a “mild” improvement in employment until the end of the election period.
“We see a mild growth in employment up until May 2016. However, we see a gradual slump in job opportunities. But it depends on the credibility of our elections and on the acceptability of our new president,” he said.
“If we have a clean and an honest election and if we have elected a good president, then new local and international investors might come in. When they come in, we expect a sustained employment,” Tanjusay added. – Rappler.com