Jan. unemployment, underemployment lowest since 2009 | Inquirer Business

Jan. unemployment, underemployment lowest since 2009

By: - Reporter / @bendeveraINQ
/ 05:30 AM March 08, 2019

Amid a slowdown in total employment due to dwindling prospects in the agriculture sector, the share of the unemployed and those looking for better opportunities also both declined in January.

Results of the Philippine Statistics Authority’s (PSA) January 2019 Labor Force Survey (LFS) showed unemployment rate slightly eased to 5.2 percent from 5.3 percent a year ago. In a statement, the state planning agency National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) said the unemployment rate that month was the lowest since 2009.

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The jobless rate declined despite an increase in the labor force population to 72.5 million from 70.9 million during the same month last year, the PSA’s preliminary estimates showed. The labor force is comprised of those 15 years old and above, whether employed or unemployed.

The underemployment rate dropped as well to 15.6 percent—which Neda said was the lowest for all January LFS rounds since 2009—from 18 percent in the same month last year.

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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.”

“The overall improvements in the proportion of remunerative work, and full-time employment, as well as the decline in underemployment and vulnerable employment, indicate that the quality of work in the country is continuously progressing,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary and Neda chief Ernesto M. Pernia said.

However, the Neda admitted total registered employment decreased by 0.9 percent to 41.4 million in January, equivalent to 387,000 fewer workers compared to the previous year.

Neda said the 1.3 million jobs generated in the industry and services sectors at the start of the year were offset by the bigger 1.7 million jobs shed in the agriculture sector.

Rising cost of materials amid low profit, limited access to credit, poor infrastructure and environmental risks resulted in the decline in employment in the sector long forgotten by the economy in general, but which was now being bannered to undergo changes.

“The prevalence of low-productivity jobs in the agriculture sector remains a challenge. Sustainable solutions such as shifting rice farmers to high-value crops, promoting crop diversification, accelerating development of local infrastructure, and training for farmers on technological advances are critical to raising productivity in agriculture,” Pernia said.

To address job losses in the agriculture sector, Pernia urged the government to “implement concrete and urgent interventions following the enactment of Republic Act (RA) No. 11203 or the Rice Industry Modernization Act, particularly for those stakeholders that will be displaced.”

RA 11203 allows for the flooding of imported rice in a bid to bring down domestic prices. Some believe this could be detrimental to the livelihoods of local farmers.

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TAGS: underemployment, unemployment
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