Unemployment eases to 6 percent in October—lowest in almost a decade
MANILA, Philippines—The number of employable Filipinos without jobs eased to 6 percent last October—the lowest rate in almost 10 years—from 6.4 percent a year ago, as the Aquino administration claimed to have created more “quality” jobs.
Data released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) on Wednesday showed that the unemployment rate slightly dropped at the start of the fourth quarter, based on the results of the October 2014 Labor Force Survey.
The latest survey showed the employment rate inching up to 94 percent in October from 93.6 percent in the same month in 2013.
The 6-percent unemployment rate was “the lowest recorded since April 2005,” the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) noted in a statement.
The PSA data, however, did not reflect employment in province of Leyte, which was not covered by the survey. To recall, Leyte was one of the most badly hit provinces when super-typhoon “Yolanda” flattened central Philippines in November last year, which resulted in the loss of many livelihood and jobs in the area.
NEDA said the October survey showed that the number of employed Filipinos rose by 2.8 percent to 38.8 million from 37.8 million during the same month in 2013. Hence, about 1.05 million new jobs were generated between October in 2013 and October this year, NEDA said.
Not only the number but also the quality of jobs improved during the one-year period, Socioplanning Economic Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan said.
“The improved employment numbers also translated to better quality jobs as around 1.03 million of the total employment generated in October 2014 were considered full time. Consistent with this is the increase in remunerative wage and salary workers, particularly in private establishments,” said Balisacan, who is also NEDA’s Director-General.
The services sector was the top jobs creator during the period, with an additional 675,000 workers to comprise over half or 53.7 percent of employment in the country as of October.
The number of jobs in the two other employment sectors—agriculture and industry—likewise increased.
“With the broad-based growth in employment, we are provided an optimistic outlook on the country’s economic performance in the fourth quarter of 2014,” Balisacan said.
The economy must grow by an ambitious 8.2 percent in the fourth quarter to hit the government’s target of 6.5-7.5 expansion in gross domestic product(GDP) by yearend, following a dismal 5.3-percent growth posted in the third quarter. The GDP measures the total value of goods and services produced in a country.
PSA data showed, however, that the number of underemployed—or those “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”—inched up to 18.7 percent in October from 18 percent in 2013.
This translates to 7.3 million underemployed Filipinos.
“Challenges to uplift the quality of employment across sectors remain. Hence, the government needs to sustain the implementation of multidimensional approach to raise investments, particularly in the rural areas, and improve productivity as well as income per capita in the country. It is also important to encourage income diversification and labor mobility in and out of agriculture,” Balisacan said.
PSA defines the labor force population as consisting of both the employed as well as the unemployed who are aged 15 and above.
Separately, the International Labor Organization (ILO) said on Wednesday that its initial estimate put at around 800,000 the number of workers affected by typhoon “Ruby” (international name: Hagupit) early this week.
These workers—mostly from Metro Manila as well as the regions of Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Bicol, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Western Visayas, and Caraga—saw their source of livelihood “damaged or disputed,” according to ILO.
“Eastern Visayas accounted for the highest share of affected workers after typhoon ‘Ruby’ and most of them are still recovering from income lost to super-typhoon Haiyan [or locally known as ‘Yolanda’],” ILO said. More than 350,000 workers or about a fifth of the labor force in the said region were impacted by “Ruby.”
Three-hundred seventy thousand (370,000) of the affected workers are “in vulnerable employment, living in poverty and accepting whatever work is available to them,” according to ILO.
To help, ILO would pour into the Philippines $1.5 million or about P66.9 million “to support the [Philippine] government through emergency employment and sustainable livelihood.”
“We’re not only putting much-needed cash into these areas, but also helping affected workers to develop new skills, to earn a decent wage and to access better working conditions including social protection coverage. These are not just labor rights but also basic human rights, which we need to take into account in times of crisis and disaster,” Lawrence Jeff Johnson, the director of the ILO’s country office for the Philippines, said in a statement.
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