AMID a growing economy, the share to the labor force of Filipinos without jobs as well as those looking for better employment both dropped in July to 11-year lows, the government said.
In its July 2016 Labour Force Survey (LFS) report, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said the unemployment rate declined to 5.4 per cent during the first month of the Duterte administration, compared with the 6.5 per cent jobless rate recorded in July last year.
In a statement, the National Eco-nomic and Development Authority (Neda) said the unemployment rate in July was the lowest since 2005.
The employment rate of 94.6 per cent, equivalent to 41 million Filipinos with jobs, was the highest in all July LFS rounds since 2011, Neda added.
The underemployment rate slid to 17.3 per cent in July – also the lowest in 11 years – from 21 per cent a year ago.
The PSA defines the underemployed as “employed persons who express the desire to have additional hours of work in their present job, or to have additional job, or to have a new job with longer working hours”.
“Our growing economy, which is largely driven by output expansion in the services and industry sectors, has created more and better jobs,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said.
“The unemployment rate in July 2016, the lowest recorded for all July rounds in the past decade, increases the likelihood of achieving the Philippine Development Plan target of 6.5-6.7 per cent for 2016,” added Pernia, who is also the director general of Neda.
The youth unemployment rate declined to 13.5 per cent in July from 16.3 per cent a year ago, likewise a record low for all July LFS rounds since 2006, according to Neda.
“The share of inactive youth – those who are neither studying nor employed – dropped to 22 per cent in July 2016 relative to the 24.8 per cent trend since 2011,” it said.
“But while this is good news, this still means that there are 4.3 million young Filipinos who are underutilised because their skills are not being enhanced by education, training or employment. Government needs to strengthen its JobStart programme, which provides assistance to young Filipinos in finding decent jobs,” Pernia said.
The labour force population is comprised of both the employed and also the unemployed aged 15 and above.
Neda said 61.5 per cent of employed Filipinos or 25.2 million have stable wage and salary jobs, of which four-fifths are working for private firms.
Neda added that 31.2 per cent of those employed also have their own businesses.
The top contributor to job generation was the services sector, employing 55.3 per cent of the country’s workforce, Neda said.
Robust growth in construction and manufacturing was responsible for the 17.8 per cent share of the industry sector in total employment, Neda added.
“The increasing trend of quality employment indicators like wage and salaried employment, full-time employment, and mean hours of work, suggests the buoyant state of the country’s labour market,” Pernia said.
However, Pernia admitted that “vulnerable employment remains a concern”, citing that “the proportion of self-employed and unpaid family workers made up over one-third of the total employed”.
“The sluggish decline of vulnerable employment could partly explain why poverty reduction is slow. These workers are less likely to have formal work arrangements and access to social protection. They are also more at risk during crises or shocks,” Pernia said.
He said the government “needs to focus efforts on helping un-utilised or underutilised youth, the unemployed youth and vulnerable workers”.
“Sustainable livelihood and entrepreneurship schemes for vulnerable workers must be developed by intensifying advocacy for financial literacy, linking them to market supply chains, and providing wider access to capital, credit and technology,” Pernia added.
The Social Weather Stations (SWS) said about 10 million Filipinos remained jobless in the three months to June, lower by a million than the survey done in the first quarter.
It said joblessness was virtually unchanged among the 18-24 age bracket at 51 per cent; 25-34 age bracket at 29 per cent; 35-44 age bracket at 15 per cent; and those aged 45 above at 14 per cent.
Unlike LFS, SWS defines joblessness as persons aged 18 and above who are not employed and are looking for jobs. This excludes those without jobs and are not looking for one, including homemakers, retirees, students or persons with disabilities.
The non-commissioned poll had a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3 percentage points, SWS said.