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Philippine jobless rate at four-year low

/ 06:16 PM December 15, 2011

MANILA, Philippines—Unemployment in the Philippines hit a four-year low of 6.4 percent in October, the government said Thursday.

However, concerns remained as the number of unpaid workers grew.

In the year to October 2.1 million jobs were created, more than double the one million put into work in the previous 12 months, Economic Planning Secretary Cayetano Paderanga told reporters.

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“Although labor entrants also increased to 1.9 million, an equally stronger employment generation resulted in a lower unemployment rate of 6.4 percent compared with the 7.1 percent unemployment rate in the same month of last year.”

The government estimates the country’s labor force at 41.2 million.

The National Statistics Office (NSO) said the National Capital Region (NCR) posted the highest unemployment rate at 10.4 percent while the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) posted the lowest at 2.3 percent. There were significantly more males (62.6 percent) than females (37.4 percent) among the unemployed and almost 50 percent of jobless Filipinos were reported to be quite young, from 15 to 24 years old.

“It is not enough that unemployment decreased. The real concern is whether quality employment improved. It’s also a cause of concern that the number of unpaid family workers actually increased. This will not help efforts to lessen poverty,” Rene E. Ofreneo of the School of Labor and Industrial Relations said in a phone interview.

Benjamin E. Diokno of the UP School of Economics said in an e-mail that two million new jobs were created in October 2011 as unemployment fell from 7.1 to 6.4 percent and underemployment improved to 19.1 percent from 19.6 percent. However, 500,000 of these new jobs were in the nature of unpaid work in family-owned businesses.

“More bad news: Average hours worked declined, as the number of part-time workers soared. Those who worked for less than 20 hours per week rose by 1.5 million, those who worked more than 40 hours rose by half a million,” Diokno said.

And as the labor participation rate rose to 66.3 percent from 64.2 percent, year on year, this indicates more are looking for a job now than ever before, Diokno explained.

“With hard times, there may be a need for a second or third worker in the family,” Diokno said.

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In terms of education, 32.9 percent of those unemployed were high school graduates, 22.6 percent were college undergraduates, while 20 percent were college graduates.

The employment rate or the proportion of employed persons to total labor force in October 2011 was estimated at 93.6 percent from 92.9 percent in October last year.

Limited employment opportunities have forced one in 10 Filipinos to seek work abroad. A quarter of the population live on a dollar a day or less, according to official data.

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TAGS: economy, Employment, Philippines, unemployment
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