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More Filipinos jobless despite high growth

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The government says jobs are not enough to absorb the growing labor force and many lost their work due to recent calamities.

UNEMPLOYED. A sea of applicants submit their resumes in the hopes of getting hired. Photo by AFP

MANILA, Philippines – Economic gains have yet to make a dent on unemployment, with the number of jobless Filipinos up in January.

The Philippine Statistics Authority’s latest Labor Force Survey showed unemployed Filipinos stood at 2.969 million in January, versus 2.776 million a year ago.

This was equivalent to an unemployment rate of 7.5%, higher than the 7.1% recorded in January 2013.

Two factors were cited for the increase: jobs were not enough to absorb the growing labor force and many lost their work due to recent calamities.

Filipinos aged 15 and above made up the labor force, which grew to 61.78 million from 60.74 million. This trimmed the proportion of the employed to 92.5% from 92.9%.

In a separate statement however, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said the January survey reflected the “lingering effects of disruptions” caused by disasters that hit in 2013.

He cited the “phenomenon of in-migration of individuals from rural areas and those from the disaster-stricken areas seeking opportunities of employment.” He said this was the reason why the unemployment rate in the National Capital Region hit double digits, at 11.2%.

“A strategic response, then, is to encourage more employment opportunities in these places of refuge. In other words, the safety net should be cast wider to include the towns or provinces adjacent to the disaster-stricken areas,” Balisacan said.

To minimize the effects of disasters on the economy as a whole, Balisacan also emphasized the importance of diversification to ensure continued operations even if certain sectors or areas are adversely affected by disasters.

“For processors and traders, it is always wise to maintain redundancies in operations spread over geographical space. Also, while a huge part of the country’s demand is domestically driven, it is equally important to expand trade relations with the rest of the world,” Balisacan said.

Balisacan said that January data did not include Region VIII as no survey could be conducted in areas that were badly damaged by Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).

“To be comparable, the PSA also excluded the Region VIII labor and employment data in the January 2013 LFS round,” he said.

Malacañang, for its part, vowed to intensify efforts to assist survivors of the disasters that hit the country last year.

“We will take note that those dislocated were part of a migration wave from places of calamity to places of refuge, or to the towns and provinces adjacent to the disaster areas. And to facilitate employability by assisting job applicants in reconstructing pre-employment documents,” Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a press briefing. –

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