PH unemployment rises to 7.3% in July

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Over 3 million Filipinos are looking for jobs in July, according to the latest Labor Force Survey data, a key indicator of how the impressive topline economic growth numbers are trickling down

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

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – About 3.002 million Filipinos looking for jobs in July 2013 pushed unemployment to 7.3%, higher than the  2.847 million jobs and 7% rate in July 2012. 

This was according to the latest Labor Force Survey data, a key indicator of how the impressive topline economic growth numbers are trickling down.

In a press briefing on Tuesday, September 10, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said the number of employed Filipinos reached 38.2 million, a slim 1.7% increase from 37.6 million a year ago.

He added that there were 620,000 new jobs generated in July — mostly in agriculture and services sectors — but were just not enough. The labor force grew faster at 1.9% during the period. Without new entrants to labor force, Philippine unemployment rate could have slowed to 6.6%, Balisacan said.

“The pool of unemployed persons consists largely of young people who lack competency and experience, which are important requirements of firms and are also key factors for successful entrepreneurship,” Balisacan said.

INFOGRAPHIC: The Filipino worker

Among the unemployed, high school graduates accounted for 32.8%, college graduates 21.8%, and college undergraduates at 13.6%.

Balisacan said it will take time for the country’s over 7% gross domestic product (GDP) performance to trickle down. “Don’t expect unemployment and underemployment to drop sharply as economy grows.”

“As the economy grows and its structure transforms, it is normal, as shown by experiences of other emerging economies, for employment to exhibit volatility as labor markets adjust. Growth tends to increase optimism among the working-age population such that more people become inclined to look for work. Some jobs are destroyed and new ones emerge in the course of structural transformation,” he explained.

The Aquino government hops to reduce unemployment to 6.5% by 2016.

READ: Philippines needs to create 14-M jobs till 2016

The Philippine labor force refers to the those who are 15 years old and over, whether employed or unemployed, who contribute to the production of goods and services.

Quality of jobs

Underemployment remained high at 19.2% in July, though this already shows a hefty slowdown from the 22.8% posted in 2012. The underemployed are composed of workers looking for additional work hours.

This translates to more than 7 million underemployed Filipinos in 2013.

Underemployment decreased across all major industry groups, with the following showing double-digit declines:

  • agriculture by 13.9%
  • industry by 13%
  • services by 15.1%

Underemployment also decreased across all categories of class of workers:

  • Wage and salary workers down by 20.8%
  • own family-operated farms or business by 23.4%
  • unpaid family workers by 10.2%
  • self-employed without any paid employee by 1.3%

In terms of hours worked, part-time employment grew faster at 3.9% compared to full-time employment, which increased only by 0.5%. “These suggest to us that recent gains in improving the quality of available employment have yet to take root. Hence, the urgency to ensure that the growth momentum is sustained and supported by strategies that will create the conditions for stable, productive, remunerative, and decent employment,” Balisacan stressed.

Balisacan highlighted the importance of reviving the manufacturing sector to address both unemployment and underemployment.

For the past quarters, job-generating manufacturing sector has been strong, largely due to the investment of foreigners and locals.

Aside from manufacturing, Balisacan said the government is banking on tourism, infrastructure and logistics, and agriculture to provide high quality jobs.

Jobs created

The 620,000 jobs created in July represent a 38.4% increase from the 448,000 net jobs created in July 2012.

These were the top sources of new and additional jobs in July:

  • 506,000 jobs in wholesale and retail trade
  • 383,000 jobs in Services (up 1.9%)
  • 154,000 jobs in transportation and storage
  • 124,000 jobs in administrative and support services activities
  • 116,000 jobs from agriculture and forestry, largely due to increased planting and harvesting activities, as well as favorable weather conditions. Recovery of agriculture generated 1.5% increase in employment.
  • 101,000 jobs in construction (up 4.3%)

READ: Govt to create more agriculture jobs

Despite the jobs generated, the employment rate slightly decreased to 92.7% from 93%, because of job losses in the following:

  • 238,000 job losses in accommodation and food service activities subsector
  • 28,000 in manufacturing
  • 14,000 mining and quarrying
  • 6,000 in sewerage waste management and remediation activities

“Ultimately, these figures show that employment creation remains a big challenge in the country,” Balisacan said.

“We assure everyone that the government is aware of the enormous tasks that must be undertaken in pursuit of our goal of inclusive growth through massive employment generation and substantial poverty reduction,” he added. – with reports from Cherrie Regalado/Rappler

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