Thursday, June 16, 2005

Three million Filipinos jobless as of end-April

NEARLY three million Filipinos were jobless as of end-April, according to the National Statistics Office (NSO).

In its latest labor force survey, the agency said unemployment in April rose 8.3 percent to 2.91 million using the International Labor Organization (ILO) concept of joblessness.

The jobless rate stood at 11.3 percent in January.

In adopting the ILO concept of unemployment, the NSO included all persons who are 15 years old and above, and who reported having no work whether or not they are looking for a job.

Under the old concept, which included only those actively seeking work, the jobless rate stood at 12.9 percent, or eight percent lower than last year’s 13.7 percent.

Filipinos who have work numbered 32.2 million; the labor force, or those who are either employed or unemployed, reached 35.1 million.

Metro Manila recorded the highest unemployment rate of 14.4 percent, followed by Central Luzon at 11.4 percent and Southern Luzon at 11.1 percent.

Most of the jobs created during the period were in the services sectors at 16 million. The agriculture and industry sectors, meanwhile, generated 11 million and 5.2 million jobs, respectively. Analysts expressed surprise at the reduction in the jobless rate.

“It is really too good to be true,” said Ron Rodrigo of Accord Capital Equities Inc.

Rodrigo suggested that perhaps more young people were getting jobs earlier rather than pursuing higher studies but he questioned if these jobs were on a long-term basis.

“What the government is saying is that the economic performance of our country is really looking better,” he said.

Bienvenido Oplas, economist and chair of the Minimal Government Movement, blamed rising unemployment rate on government disincentives to job creation by the private sector.

While the private sector can create at least two million jobs a year, high taxes and corruption constrained job generation, he said.

Despite the lower jobless rate year on year, the economist said the government should focus on the rising underemployment rate.

The number of underemployed persons or those who desired additional hours of work but cannot find the same, stood at 26.1 percent.

Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas said the fall in unemployment was because “a lot of jobs were created in the service sector and this is from the wholesale and retail trading.”

She also said more Filipinos were becoming entrepreneurs although she did not give figures.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Romulo L. Neri earlier said that employment has grown at an average of 2.6 percent a year since 1998, reaching 31.6 million jobs last year. This, however, has not made a significant dent on unemployment because of the country’s high population growth rate, compounded with the drop in employment in the agriculture sector.

He said the labor force grew faster than the pace of job creation. Unemployment remains higher among females than among males, and is pronounced in the 25 to 34 age groups. “This is sad, since these are the ages where the performance of an employee is at its peak,” Neri said.

Under its Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan, the government expects to create 1.5 million jobs a year, and 10 million by the sixth year of the Arroyo administration

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