DESPITE the country’s robust economic growth, unemployment is expected to worsen even beyond the term of President Benigno Aquino 3rd due to “global spillovers,” the International Labor Organization (ILO) said.
In a recently released executive summary, ILO said the 7.3 percent unemployment rate in the Philippines for 2013 was the highest among Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) member-countries and other nations in the Pacific region.
Data culled from the Global Employment Trends indicated that until 2017, the country’s unemployment rate will steadily rise to 7.3 percent in 2014, 7.4 percent in 2015, 7.4 percent in 2016 and 7.5 percent in 2017.
“In the Philippines, despite robust economic growth in excess of 6.8 percent in the past two years, job growth has been subdued and the unemployment rate remained at around 7 percent throughout 2012 and 2013,” the ILO report said.
Interestingly, the unemployment rate for the entire Southeast Asian region is forecast to remain steady at 4.3 percent until 2017.
“GDP [gross domestic product]in the Philippines remained strong … supported by government spending on infrastructure,” the report said.
Aquino will step down in June 2016.
When he does and if the ILO forecast is to be believed, the Philippines will continue to have the worst joblessness rate in the Asia-Pacific region.
When sought for comment, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the Aquino administration is “intensifying job generation by promoting expansion and new investments in manufacturing and high value-added industries.”
“This will create more high-quality jobs. Chronically high unemployment is being addressed through targeted skills training programs by Tesda and DOLE’s job-matching programs,” Coloma told The Manila Times. He was referring to the Technical Educational Skills Development Authority and the Department of Labor and Employment.
Although Indonesia in 2013 posted the second highest unemployment rate at 6 percent, this figure is seen to taper off to 5.9 percent by 2017.
“Economic growth in Indonesia, the region’s largest economy, is estimated to have moderated considerably in 2013 to 5.3 percent, compared with GDP growth exceeding 6.2 percent annually from 2010 to 2012 as demand for the economy’s exports slowed and the possibility of ‘monetary tapering’ in the United States raised volatility in Indonesia’s financial market,” the report stressed.
For 2013, the unemployment rates in Asean countries are: Philippines, 7.3 percent; Indonesia, 6 percent; Brunei, 3.7 percent; Myanmar, 3.5 percent; Malaysia, 3.2 percent; Singapore, 3.1 percent; Vietnam and Laos, 1.4 percent each; Thailand, 0.8 percent; and Cambodia, 0.3 percent.
On the other hand, the ILO projected that the Philippines will continue to dominate the unemployment data in 2017 with 7.5 percent, followed by Indonesia with 5.9 percent. Brunei will be at 2.9 percent; Myanmar, 3.7 percent; Malaysia, 3.3 percent; Singapore, 3.6 percent; Vietnam, 2.3 percent; Laos, 1.5 percent; Thailand, 0.9 percent; and Cambodia, 0.6 percent.
“Almost 202 million people were unemployed in 2013 around the world, an increase of almost 5 million compared with the year before. This reflects the fact that employment is not expanding sufficiently fast to keep up with the growing labor force,” the ILO said.
For Asean member-countries, it added, the Asean Economic Community 2015 “will present both opportunities and challenges in terms of growth prospects across different sectors, shifting trade patterns, the need to nurture comparative advantage within each country, skills mismatches and their implications on the labor market.”
“In particular, a free flow of labor is envisioned within the Asean community, signaling both opportunities and challenges for jobseekers,” the ILO said.
With only two remaining years in office, the President is finding himself increasingly alienated from the very people he proudly proclaimed four years ago as his bosses.
The labor coalition Nagkaisa (United) that led thousands of its members in a Labor Day march to Mendiola near Malacanang on Thursday described the last four years under Aquino as “extremely disappointing.”
The group said none of the most pressing concerns raised by organized labor such as contractualization and high electricity rates were seriously addressed, while extra-judicial killings, tax breaks and other urgent issues are locked under contentious discussions among political advisers and economic managers.
Marching under the theme, “Hindi tuwid, hindi tama, hindi makatwiran kung pag-unlad ay para sa iilan lamang (It is not straight, it is not right, it is unjust if growth is only for a few),” Nagkaisa noted that growth will remain highly unequal when millions of workers remain contractuals.
More than 70 percent of employed persons in the country, according to a study, are “non-regular workers.”
Nagkaisa said it is upset that until now, the government has not produced a clear and viable roadmap on how to lower the price of electricity in the country.
Thousands of members of the Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) wore red shirts when they marched also on Thursday to express their dismay with the “elitist [Aquino administration] and its neo-liberal economic policies.”
They joined the Nagkaisa marchers, who converged early morning at the Mabuhay Rotunda in Quezon City before marching to Mendiola.
Leody de Guzman, BMP national president, chided the President for asking organized labor during a dialogue in Malacanang to give the government more time in looking at workers’ concerns.
“Sorry, Mister President. The workers and the poor have no more time for your lame excuses. Time is a luxury that we do not have. Four years of indifference to our immediate and urgent demands are enough. Year after year, workers come out empty- handed on May Day as [you]can only promise to review their proposals,” de Guzman said.
The BMP called for amendments to the Labor Code, including enactment of a living wage, abolition of regional wage boards, prohibition of contractual employment, liberalization of processes and requisites for union formation, criminalization of employers’ gross violations of the code and a 36-hour workweek.
House Deputy Minority Leader Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna party-list and Deputy Majority Floor Leader Sherwin Tugna of CIBAC party-list also on Thursday said the government should address the issue of low wages.
“It is high time that the P125 across-the-board wage hike be prioritized and immediately implemented,” Colmenares said.
He added that benefits under the Social Security System should also be expanded.
WITH REINA TOLENTINO