Philippines misses most of 2017 labor targets

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines improved in addressing unemployment and low work force participation in women in 2017, but this was not enough to breach desirable territory.

In a press briefing on Monday, May 21, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) revealed the country’s unemployment rate for 2017 declined to 5.7% but still missed the 5.1% to 5.4% target. 

The country recorded an 11.9% in youth unemployment last year, missing the target of 11%.

However, NEDA Director Reynaldo Cancio noted that some of the youth were out of the labor force for a good reason.

“Because of the Conditional Cash Transfer program, some went back to school and did not work,” Cancio said.

Employment generated in 2017 was over 660,000, but still some 230,000 points away from the target range.

Meanwhile, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia expressed concern over the low participation rate of women in the work force.

The country aimed for a 49.3% women participation in 2017, but was short by 3.1 percentage points.

“It’s highly puzzling because women in the Philippines have high status. There are women occupying higher positions, but participation is low overall,” Pernia said.

"It could be related to the country's high fertility rate, women have more children and tend to stay at home," Cancio said.

Only underemployment figures improved to favorable levels at 17.1%, exceeding the 18.3-20.3 target range. –

Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.