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Philippine jobless rate falls to 6.7% in July

MANILA, Philippines – Unemployment rate in the Philippines continues to fall as more Filipinos find jobs in the services and industry sectors, according to the government.

The Labor Force Survey released by the Philippine Statistics Authority on Wednesday, September 10, showed the country’s jobless rate fell to 6.7% in July from the 7% rate recorded in April this year, and 7.3% in July 2013.

The latest figure was equivalent to 2.78 million Filipinos, versus 2.96 million a year ago.

The number of underemployed or those seeking additional jobs or work hours also declined to 7.05 million or 18.3% of the labor force, from 7.17 million or 19.2%.

“Employment generation during the period was broad-based, led by services and industry,” said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan.

There were 38.5 million Filipinos with jobs in July, translating to an employment rate of 93.3%, compared to 37.4 million last year or a rate of 92.7%.

More than half of the employed Filipinos were in the services sector (54%), followed by the agriculture (30.1%) and industry (15.9%).

The labor force participation rate improved to 64.4% in July from 63.9% in 2013. According to Balisacan, the labor market absorbed 870,000 entrants “[expanding] the labor force to 41.23 million.”

To sustain the improvement, Balisacan said the government “should continue fostering an economic climate conducive to business and investment to sustain the labor market gains that were achieved in the recent quarters of this year.”

In the industry sector, he said the key objective should be to increase investment especially in labor-intensive sectors.

In agriculture, Balisacan said the problem has to do with the quality of employment which is both seasonal and low-paying. He said this can be addressed by introducing nonfarm employment opportunities during the off-season, such as value-adding activities, community-based employment program.

“In the immediate term, the demand for labor can be driven by the infrastructure program of government, reconstruction activities in the Visayas and other disaster-hit areas, and private construction.”

Less full-time workers

The PSA noted a drop in the percentage of full-time workers among the employed. From 65% in July 2013, full-time workers comprised 62.7% of the employed in July this year.

On the other hand, part-time workers rose to 36.2% from 34.3%.

The Labor Force Survey covered employed and unemployed Filipinos across the country, exclusing the province of Leyte. 

Balisacan said the government failed to conduct survey in the province “due to destruction and labor displacement caused by Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).”

Also, employment rates were lower in CALABARZON (92.0%), Central Luzon (91.7%), and the National Capital Region (89.7%). – Mick Basa / Rappler.com