THE Philippine job market showed an overall improvement in April from a year ago, which the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said should be sustained to meet the government’s key targets in the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022.
Unemployment eased to 5.7 percent of the labor force in April from 6.1 percent last year, the latest Labor Force Survey showed.
This translated to 2.44 million jobless Filipinos in April 2017, compared with 2.62 million jobless in April 2016, data released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed.
“Of the total unemployed, the age group 15 to 24 years comprised 49.5 percent, while the age group 25 to 34, 29.3 percent. By educational attainment, 20.6 percent of the unemployed were college graduates, 13.7 percent were college undergraduates, and 33.5 percent have completed junior high school,” the PSA said.
Employment rate improves
Consequently, the employment rate in April improved to 94.3 percent from 93.9 percent a year earlier. This translated to 40.27 million employed Filipinos, slightly lower than the 40.66 million in April 2016.
In a statement, NEDA said employment in the agriculture sector increased by 1.2 percent, with a net employment gain of 125,000 workers.
Industry employment increased to 7.4 million, with manufacturing posting an employment gain of 1.6 percent or 55,000 workers.
“Increased activity confirms the renewed positive outlook of exporting firms that had anticipated increases in the volume of export production,” said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia.
However, the services sector—which accounts for more than half of the country’s total employment—recorded a net employment loss of 557,000 workers.
“This loss could be an effect of the 2016 election spending fully tapering off. It is possible that recent changes in labor policies regarding contractual workers may have had an adverse effect on firms’ hiring decisions,” Pernia explained.
Underemployment lowest in more than 10 yrs
The rate of underemployment, which refers to the proportion of persons seeking more work, reached its lowest in more than 10 years, at 16.1 percent in April 2017. Underemployment in April 2016 stood at 18.3 percent.
Data showed there were 962,000 fewer underemployed workers in April compared with last year.
NEDA said the decreasing unemployment rate must be sustained together with higher job creation to reduce unemployment to about 3 percent by 2022.
Pernia said the government should develop low-cost, labor-intensive but efficient methods for meeting infrastructure needs and health and education services.
A trend worth noting is the decline in labor force participation of women to 46.2 percent in April from 48.9 percent last year. This could pose a challenge in meeting the PDP target to hike labor force participation of women to 51.3 percent by 2022.
To reverse this trend, the government needs to work on the full implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law, improving access and affordability of child care services, and crafting policies that promote work-life balance, the NEDA said.