The unemployment rate in the Philippines remained at around 7 percent despite the “robust” economic growth” it experienced in the past two years, the International Labor Organization (ILO) said in its Global Employment Trends 2014 report.
The country has recorded an in excess of 6.8 percent growth in 2012 and 2013, but the ILO said “job growth has been subdued and the unemployment rate” remained at a high of 7 percent in both years.
This is relatively high compared with the rest of the Southeast Asian region.
In most of Southeast Asia, the unemployment rate has a downward trend–from an average of 6 percent between 2000 to 2008 to around the projected 4.5 percent in the next few years.
The unemployment rate for both genders in the country also remained higher than the average rate of Southeast Asian region.
“Women in the region face slightly higher chances of unemployment than men,” the ILO said.
There is a 4.4 percent unemployment rate for women in the region while 4.1 percent was recorded for men. In Indonesia, for example, the unemployment rate for women in May last year was 6.3 percent compared with 5.5 percent for men.
However, the Philippines has a higher unemployment rate for both genders last year–7.2 percent for women in July 2013 and 7.3 percent for men.
Another major challenge for the region is the estimated youth unemployment rate of 13 percent in 2013.
That rate is three times of the total unemployment rate, and approximately five times that of the adult unemployment rate.
“Given the young demographic profile of many of the countries in the region, adequately equipping youth with education and skills and enabling youth to obtain productive jobs that have upward earning prospects are likely to remain key policy concerns,” the ILO said in the report.
But because the Philippines is part of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Economic Community 2015, it will be presented with 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 for the labor market.”
“In particular, a freer flow of labor is envisioned within the Asean community, signalling both new opportunities and challenges for jobseekers.”
Asean is composed of the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and Brunei Darussalam.
The ILO predicted that in Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia and the Philippines, the labor force growth will continue to grow “relatively rapidly at well above 1.5 percent per year.”
The Philippines has an average annual labor force growth rate of 2.46 percent from 2010 to 2014 and a predicted 2.31 percent from 2015 to 2020.
In Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, there will be a “notable slowdown” in labor force growth to less than 1 percent a year.
The disparity in labor force growth and diverse employment opportunities within the region, as well as the differences in income, will create “push and pull factors” for workers “to move across borders.”
To benefit Asean’s economies and workers, the ILO is recommending an improvement of the labor market information systems, cross-country skills recognition framework and job placement mechanisms. BERNICE CAMILLE V. BAUZON