Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Jobless rate down in ’07, says survey

By Michelle Remo
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines -- The unemployment rate fell to 6.3 percent of the total labor force in October from 7.3 percent in the same month last year, in what the government said was a natural consequence of a robustly growing economy.

Based on the Labor Force Survey released Tuesday by the National Statistics Office, there were some 2,261,700 unemployed persons in October out of a total labor force of 35.9 million, or 6.3 percent of all workers.

Conversely, the number of employed persons was 33,638,300 for an employment rate of 93.7 percent.

Myrna Asuncion, head of the National Economic and Development Authority policy and planning department, said the drop in the unemployment rate meant there was an increase in the number of people generating income. This supported the earlier report on the growth of the Philippine economy that beat most forecasts, she said.

“More people are now earning income. This is a reflection of the economy’s performance,” Asuncion said in an interview.

The economy, as measured by the gross domestic product (GDP), grew by 7.1 percent year-on-year in the first three quarters of 2007. This has kept the economy on track to surpass the official growth target rate of between 6.1 and 6.7 percent for the entire year.

The GDP, the most common yardstick of a country’s economic performance, is the sum of all goods produced and services rendered within an economy during a period.

The NSO said nearly half, or 48.8 percent, of all employed persons in October belonged to the services sector. The sector, which recorded the fastest growth among key sectors of the economy so far this year, includes the booming business process outsourcing (BPO) industry which counts call centers.

The latest data showed the services sector, boosted by the income generated by the BPO industry, grew 8.2 percent year-on-year from January to September this year, up greatly from the 6.1 percent recorded in the same period last year.

The agriculture, fisheries and forestry sector grew by 4.6 percent from January to September, while the industry sector (which includes manufacturing and mining) grew by 6.8 percent.

The NSO said that of the employed persons in October, 35.1 percent were part-time workers while the larger 64.9-percent share were full-time workers. Full-time workers are those who work at least 40 hours a week.

Employed persons looking for additional work are considered underemployed, according to the NSO. In October, the agency said, 18.1 percent of the labor force were underemployed.

Asuncion said the government had generated about 800,000 new jobs so far this year, still short of the target of 1 million jobs annually.

She said the government would work on meeting the million jobs a year target in 2008.

The government expects the economy to grow between 6.3 and 7 percent next year.

Asuncion said the government hopes this would translate to one million new jobs next year.

She said that if the growth would be in labor-intensive sectors, such as construction and manufacturing, the target of 1 million new jobs would be attainable.

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