The jobless rate inched up to 5.6 percent in July from 5.4 percent a year ago as more Filipinos joined the labor force, the government reported yesterday.
The state planning agency National Economic and Development Authority said it was concerned about the employment losses, but expressed optimism that the ambitious “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program would create more jobs moving forward.
In its latest Labor Force Survey report, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said its latest preliminary estimates showed that 94.4 percent of the labor force were employed in July, slightly down from 94.6 percent last year.
In July, the labor force population, which consisted of those with jobs as well as the jobless who were aged 15 and up, stood at 70.16 million, up from a year ago’s 68.43 million.
“The overall job market contraction in July followed a trend that began in the first round of the Labor Force Survey in January this year,” noted Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia, who also heads Neda.
The jobless rate in July—still the second lowest among July figures since 2006—reflected 2.4 million unemployed Filipinos, Neda said.
“The government is concerned over the loss in employment and vows to improve the situation. For one, the ‘Build, Build, Build’ program, anchored on the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022, is expected to open the road for more jobs and generate significant activity in the domestic economy,” Pernia said.
“With some of the government’s 75 flagship projects commencing soon, around 1.1 million new jobs will be created every year,” Pernia added.
“One way to enhance the impact of the heavy infrastructure spending on the labor market is by tapping the domestic economy’s technical and blue-collared workers for the government’s infrastructure projects and programs,” the Neda chief said.
In terms of sectors, Pernia noted of “significant job losses” in agriculture and services.
“The manufacturing and construction sectors have recorded job growth. But the widespread employment losses in the agriculture and services more than offset these gains,” Pernia said.
In particular, the agriculture sector lost 1.03 million jobs or about 9.2 percent of employment, Neda said.
As for services, Pernia explained that “the recent changes in labor policies regarding contractual workers may have had a perverse effect on firms’ hiring decision.”
The underemployment rate, meanwhile, declined to 16.3 percent in July from last year’s 17.3 percent.
Pernia said the underemployment rate in July was the lowest in more than a decade.
The PSA defines the underemployed as “employed persons who express the desire to have additional hours of work in their present job, or to have additional job, or to have a new job with longer working hours.”
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