Jobless rate down, underemployment up
The unemployment rate eased to 5.8 percent in January from 6.6 percent a year ago, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported yesterday.
But while the number of jobless in the labor force population decreased, the PSA’s January 2016 Labor Force Survey showed that the underemployment rate increased to 19.7 percent from 17.9 percent in the same month last year.
According to the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda), the drop in the jobless rate came on the back of about 752,000 new jobs generated between January last year and January 2016.
The number of employed Filipinos thus increased by 2 percent to 39.2 million, PSA data showed.
“Our labor market was boosted by better employment opportunities in the industry and services sectors. This performance also brought the unemployment rate to its second lowest in the decade, with the lowest recorded in October last year,” Economic Planning Secretary Emmanuel F. Esguerra said in a statement.
“With employment growing faster at 2 percent relative to the labor force growth of 1.1 percent, the number of unemployed went down by 279,000 to 2.4 million during the period,” added Esguerra, who is also director general of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda).
In this regard, the Neda chief expressed optimism that the end-2016 target of 6.5-6.7 percent unemployment rate under the Aquino administration’s Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016 would likely be achieved.
However, Esguerra “stressed the need to urgently address the continued lag in employment in the agriculture sector, which recorded a net employment loss of 935,000” due to the weak agricultural output resulting from the prolonged dry spell due to El Niño, which peaked last December.
“Agriculture accounts for over a quarter of total employment. This highlights the need to further improve the resiliency of farmers to mitigate effects of unfavorable weather conditions such as the El Niño, which may persist until May. Also, enhancing skills and improving capacities of affected farm workers is important for them to have a smoother transition to more stable work,” Esguerra said.
Neda also noted a slight decrease in the labor force participation rate to 63.3 percent from 63.7 percent a year ago “partly due to the decision among the youth to opt out of the labor force to attend school and become full-time students.”
The labor force population is comprised of both the employed and also the unemployed aged 15 and above.
However, the number of underemployed increased to about 7.7 million, mostly wage and salary employees in private establishments, Neda said.
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.”