Unemployment down to 6.7% in July
MANILA, Philippines — Unemployment eased in July as over a million new jobs were made available, representing an increase from the number of jobs that were created a year ago in the same month, the government reported Wednesday.
In a statement, the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) said the latest Labor Force Survey (LFS) showed that the unemployment rate last July stood at 6.7 percent, down 0.6 percentage point from 7.3 percent during the same month in 2013. July’s unemployment figure was likewise less than the 7 percent posted last April.
Underemployment, which the government defines as “the proportion of those who are already working but still wanted more work,” slid 0.9 percentage point to 18.3 percent in July from 19.2 percent in 2013.
The Neda said the number of employed Filipinos as of July reached 38.5 million, up 2.8 percent from 37.4 million in the same period in 2013.
The agency claimed 1.06 million jobs were created between July 2013 and July this year.
“Employment generation during the period was broad-based, led by services and industry,” Neda director-general and Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan noted.
According to Neda, the “strong gains” as shown by the latest employment figures reflect “continued signs of dynamism in the labor market and sustained confidence in the economy.”
The labor force participation rate (LFPR), meanwhile, inched up to 64.4 percent in July from 63.9 percent in 2013 in the same period. About 879,000 new workers joined the labor market during the 12-month period, bringing the labor force to a total of 41.23 million as of mid-2014.
“To some extent, the growth in the LFPR reflects the more positive outlook of workers in line with the momentum created by the robust economic growth in recent years, along with the expectations of better employment,” Balisacan said.
The Neda chief said the employment grew in every worker class, citing that majority of laborers “found remunerative work.” In agriculture and services—which comprise the bulk of the labor force—however, most gained only part-time employment, which brought down the overall average working hours, he said.
Hence, Balisacan urged generating more non-farm job opportunities during the off-harvest season through community-based, value-adding activities to address the agriculture sector’s low-paying and seasonal employment problem.
To sustain job generation, the government “should continue fostering an economic climate conducive to business and investment,” Balisacan said.
“In industry, the key objective should be to increase investment, especially in labor-intensive sectors, and to encourage the existing pool of employers to hire more workers. In the immediate term, the demand for labor can be driven by the infrastructure program of government, reconstruction activities in the Visayas and other disaster-hit areas, and private construction,” he said.
As for services, the information technology-business process management (IT-BPM) and tourism sectors still have “much room for expansion,” according to Balisacan.
“To further support the labor market performance in the medium term, the government should remain vigilant to attendant risks to growth and make sure that pre-emptive measures and programs are in place to mitigate any adverse effects of such risks or shocks in the economy,” the Neda chief said.
Balisacan disclosed that the data used for July’s LFS still excluded figures from Leyte province, where no survey was conducted due to labor displacement caused by super-typhoon Yolanda late last year.