• EMPLOYMENT FIGURE SLIGHTLY UP

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    The National Statistics Office (NSO) said on Tuesday that the country’s employment, unemployment and underemployment for the third quarter of the year improved slightly compared to year ago levels.

    According to the NSO’s Labor Force Survey (LFS), employment for the year was raised by 0.3 percent to 93.5 percent in October from the 93.2 percent in the same time last year, despite the rise in typhoons hitting the country in August and September.

    “The increase in employment in these sectors [industry and services], propped up by wholesale and retail trade in the services sector, more than offset the decline in the agriculture sector,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said.

    Balisacan said that the employment numbers are expected to go up by the yearend as the services sector took more than half of the total labor force with 53.4 percent, followed by agriculture with 31.4 percent, and industry with 15.2 percent.

    “We expect growth in these sectors to continue in light of the Christmas season,” Balisacan said.

    In terms of labor force negatives, unemployment went down by 0.3 percent to 6.5 percent from the 6.8 percent in the same period last year.

    Underemployment also dropped to 17.9 percent, “possibly due to satisfaction on current employment situation brought by higher incomes or low and stable inflation.”

    The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said that bulk of the labor force in October, or 44.6 percent of total employed, “came from the more remunerative wage and salaried class of workers,” showing that employees were working for the private sector.

    The NEDA added that based on latest data of the Bureau of Labor and Employment Statistics, average daily wage of a regular Filipino employee ranged from P327 a day in January 2012 to P346 a day in January 2013, while inflation or rise in prices was steady at 2.8 percent for the first 10 months of the year, lower than the government’s target of 3 percent to 5 percent.

    Balisacan said that the upcoming medium term update of the Philippine Development Plan would press on the “reduction of unemployment in agriculture” and the creation of other growth drivers in the country to generate and increase high-quality jobs, and to improve competitiveness of the country in the Asian region.

    “There is a need to sustain efforts that facilitate the substantial creation of decent and quality employment. Further, we need to implement disaster risk-management to mitigate the impact of weather disturbances, particularly in agriculture,” he said.

    Balisacan said that the manufacturing and agriculture sectors combined would be the means to generate quality employment.

    “We need to intensify the implementation of measures that will increase agricultural productivity through the use of appropriate technology. We also need to strengthen the link of agriculture with the manufacturing sector to create more quality employment such as in the agro-industry,” he said.

    Balisacan also said that as the economy and government structure transforms and grows, employment would experience volatility and instability as shown by previous emerging economies.

    “Growth tends to increase optimism among the working-age population such that more people become inclined to look for work. Some jobs are destroyed and new ones emerge in the course of structural transformation. While jobs are created, current skill sets of the labor force may not be able to immediately meet the growing and shifting demand for labor,” Balisacan said.

    He said that policies granting “flexible” work schedules would be beneficial for employers and employees to seize labor growth opportunities, as well as to easily adapt to changing markets.

    Though the October LFS data showed that employment increased, Balisacan pointed out that numbers from Leyte, particularly people who are now jobless from the destruction caused by Super Typhoon Yolanda, were not counted.

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