UNEMPLOYMENT worsened in January as thousands lost their jobs due to recent typhoons that hit the country, Malacañang said on Tuesday, pledging to find new ways to ease the problem.
Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the number of people without jobs increased, boosting the labor force by 1.2 percent, while the number of jobs created during the period improved by only 0.8 percent, or 283,000 jobs.
The Palace official said they will introduce two new approaches to address the problem: promote employment opportunities in places of refuge and provide aid to jobseekers.
“We will take note that those mislocated were part of a migration wave from places of calamity to places of refuge, or to the towns and provinces adjacent to the disaster areas; and facilitate employability by assisting job applicants in reconstructing pre-employment documents,” Coloma told reporters.
He explained that victims of disasters such as those ravaged by Super Typhoon Yolanda in Eastern Visayas have difficulty in applying for work because documents required during application have all been destroyed.
“They find it difficult to produce documents that are normally required by employers such as transcript of records, birth certificate, and so on,” Coloma stressed.
“These are the practical needs that affect the employability of those searching for jobs that’s why we are focused on addressing the problem of unemployment which grew slightly because of previous calamities,” he added.
The National Statistics Office on Tuesday reported that jobless Filipinos who are part of the labor force rose in January from a year earlier.
The latest labor force survey (LFS) showed that the jobless rate in January stood at 7.5 percent, higher than the 7.1 percent recorded in the same period last year.
The 7.5 percent translates to 2.969 million jobless Filipinos, higher than the 2.776 million recorded a year earlier.
“The January result of the LFS is quite unique in that it comes as an aftermath of two extreme disasters in 2013. We are now observing the lingering effects of the disruptions caused by these disasters on the supply chains not only in disaster-affected areas but also in neighboring areas,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said.
“The devastation wrought by these disasters probably affected tourism and demand for leisure and wellness services,” Balisacan, who is also the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) director general, said.
Balisacan noted that for January labor figures, they did not include Region VIII, the major area affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda.
Ben Diokno, an economist at the University of the Philippines, said the unemployment figure for January was even “understated” because the survey did not cover the Central Visayas.
Diokno noted that a huge chunk of the unemployed consists of young people, mostly college graduates and undergraduates.
“The number of unemployed workers has increased to 2.96 million in January 2014 from 2.8 million in January 2013, or by 193,000 workers. A growing economy should be creating more jobs, not losing them,” he said.