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PH’s jobless rate highest in emerging Asia

/ 05:22 AM November 25, 2021

The Philippines’ unemployment rate of 8.9 percent in September remained the highest among emerging Asian economies, but state planning agency National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) was optimistic more jobs would be restored and more people would be back to work given the further reopening of the economy alongside faster mass vaccination.

In its monthly jobs report, Neda noted that the latest jobless rates in six other emerging Asian countries were lower than that of the Philippines: India’s was 7.6 percent in July to August; Indonesia, 6.3 percent in February; Malaysia, 4.8 percent in July; China 3.9 percent in September, and Vietnam, 3.6 percent also in September.

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The Philippines this year conducted its labor force survey monthly to better monitor job gains while quarantine restrictions gradually eased. India and Malaysia also report on their jobs situation monthly. China and Vietnam release their jobs data quarterly, like what the Philippine Statistics Authority used to do. Indonesia reports twice a year, in February and August.

The country’s 8.9 percent jobless rate in September, the highest so far this year, translated to 4.3 million unemployed Filipinos.

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The government had attributed the high unemployment rate mainly to bad weather and the end of harvest season as these shed 862,000 seasonal and vulnerable jobs in the agriculture sector last September.

“Nevertheless, the year-to-date average unemployment rate of 8.1 percent remains within the Updated Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 target of 7-9 percent,” Neda said. Neda said further reopening the economy through the full implementation of granular lockdowns, along with the accelerated rollout of the vaccination program in areas outside the National Capital Region (NCR) were key to economic recovery and the returns of more jobs and livelihood.

While the government expanded its localized alert level system which limited restrictions to smaller and specific areas with COVID-19 outbreak, Neda said “establishments are likewise encouraged to innovate and adopt digital solutions to ensure business continuity and lower the risk of transmission.”

With the vaccination rate in the NCR already exceeding 85 percent, the government’s vaccination efforts are now focused on the other regions.

“Vaccination plays a key role in promoting the safe recovery of economic activities. In fact, the International Labor Organization estimates that for every 14 fully vaccinated individuals, one job is added to the global labor market,” Neda said.

It also said “the full implementation of the recovery programs and the urgent passage of economic liberalization bills is crucial in supporting the recovery.”

“For instance, the amendments to the Public Service Act redefines the coverage of public utilities and proposes to remove foreign ownership restrictions in critical services sectors such as transportation and telecommunications, among others. This will encourage the entry of more players and help provide consumers with a wider range of choices and improved quality of services at more reasonable rates,” according to Neda.

—Ben O. de Vera
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TAGS: Asian economies, National Economic and Development Authority (Neda), unemployment rate
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