The Philippines has the highest unemployment rate among the 10 members of Asean, according to the International Labour Organisation.
Based on the ILO “Global Employment Trends” report published in January, the Philippines registered an unemployment rate of 7.3 per cent as of 2013. This is relatively high compared with the rest of Southeast Asia.
In most of the region, the unemployment rate showed a downward trend – from an average of 6 per cent between 2000 and 2008 to a projected 4.5 per cent in the next few years.
Ranking just below the Philippines is Indonesia with 6 per cent, the study showed. Brunei has 3.7 per cent; Myanmar, 3.5 per cent; Malaysia, 3.2 per cent; and Singapore, 3.1 per cent.
The countries with the lowest unemployment rates are Vietnam, 1.9 per cent; Laos, 1.4 per cent; Thailand, 0.8 per cent; and Cambodia, 0.3 per cent.
The ILO said global unemployment last year reached 202 million, an increase of almost 5 million compared with 2012.
In the Philippines, the high unemployment rate will persist as the country has failed to translate the significant improvement in its gross domestic product in the past two years to job opportunities for its unemployed workers, ILO director-general Guy Ryder said.
“Despite robust economic growth in excess of 6.8 per cent in the last two years, job growth has been subdued and the unemployment rate has remained at around 7 per cent throughout 2012 and 2013,” he said.
The ILO official also noted the declining quality of employment in developing countries, including the Philippines, last year.
“In 2013, the number of workers in extreme poverty – living on less than [US]$1.25 a day – declined by only 2.7 per cent globally, one of the lowest rates over the past decade, with the exception of the immediate crisis years,” Ryder said.
He urged developing countries to implement reforms to generate more jobs, particularly for the youth sector, which accounts for most of the world’s unemployed workers. An estimated 74.5 million workers under the age of 25 are now unemployed.
This can be attributed, according to Ryder, to restrictive policies in these countries, such as reductions in public spending and tax increases on income and consumption that continue to hinder job creation.
“What is urgently needed is policy rethink. Stronger efforts are needed to accelerate employment creation and to support enterprises that create jobs,” Ryder said.
He said a switch to more employment-friendly policies and rising labour incomes would boost economic growth and job creation. “It is crucial to strengthen social protection floors and promote transitions to formal employment.”
The ILO has projected a bleak outlook for employment in the Philippines and other countries this year despite the expected slow improvement in the world economy.
In a previous statement, Ryder said the ILO projected only 200 million new jobs would be created by 2018 worldwide because of weak employment growth in most countries.
“This is less than what is required to absorb the growing number of new entrants to the labour market,” he said.