Underemployment worst in October, survey shows

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More Filipinos found jobs in October this year but underemployment worsened, the latest Labor Force Survey (LFS) released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) on Tuesday showed.

The employment rate in October rose to 95.3 percent from 94.4 percent a year earlier, the highest since October 2006, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).
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Consequently, unemployment dropped to 4.7 percent during the month, from 5.6 percent in October 2015 — the lowest rate recorded in the past decade.

However, while the number of employed people increased, the rate of underemployment climbed 18 percent from 17.6 percent a year earlier.

The NEDA said 41.7 million Filipinos were employed in October.


Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) Vice President and lead economist Emilio Neri Jr. viewed the drop in joblessness as consistent with the rapid expansion (7.1 percent) of the economy in the third quarter of 2016.
The services sector remained the top employment contributor with a share of 54.9 percent or 22.9 million of the total employed.

The industry sector, accounted for 17.2 percent or 7.2 million, driven largely by strong growth in manufacturing and construction.

“This means that the growth of our economy is becoming more inclusive as it engages more and more Filipinos to participate in the labor market,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said in a statement.
With the decrease of unemployment in October 2016, Pernia said the government’s implied full-year
unemployment rate will be 5.5 percent, exceeding the government target for 2016 of 6.5 percent to 6.7 percent.

On the other hand, underemployment was prevalent among those working in private households and those employed in family business.

“While we are able to cut unemployment, many of our workers are forced to either work part time or end up in jobs that put a cap on their earning capacity. This is the reason why a sizeable portion of our huge pool of human capital end up working abroad,” Neri said.

“If more big-ticket public infrastructure projects will be approved by the first quarter of 2017 together with those already signed by the NEDA in the last five months, we can expect more construction projects in the second half of 2017, that can help ramp up our already improving employment figures,” he added.

However, Pernia reiterated that more than a third of those who are employed, particularly in the agriculture sector, are vulnerable to external shocks and economic downturns.

“We must accelerate the improvement of local infrastructure and facilitate the linkaging of the sectors, primarily between the agriculture and industry sectors, to help raise the productivity of farmers and increase the value of their products,” he said.

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