MANILA – The number of employed Filipinos decreased in January 2017, partly due to the recent typhoons that affected the agriculture sector, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).
The January 2017 Labor Force Survey (LFS) of the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that the country’s employment rate declined to 93.4 from 94.3 percent a year ago. This translates to 39.3 million employed Filipinos, which is 1.34 million or 3.3 percent lower than in January 2016.
“We mainly observe the employment losses in the agriculture sector, which has been greatly affected by typhoons Nina and Auring that hit our country last December and January,” said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia.
He noted that the agriculture sector accounts for the second largest share of total employed at 25.5 percent, which has shed an estimated 882,000 workers or two-thirds of the employment losses.
“The government must focus interventions to diversify the sources of income of our workers in the agriculture sector, increase labor participation of women, and address youth unemployment and underutilization,” he added.
On the other hand, underemployment, which refers to those who are working but wanted more work, improved to 16.3 percent or 1.6 million workers lower from last year’s 19.7 percent. This is lowest rate recorded for all LFS January rounds since 2006.
Meanwhile, the unemployment rate in the country increased to 6.6 percent in January 2017 from last year’s 5.7 percent. While higher than the previous year, it is lower than the average of 7.4 percent recorded from 2006-2015.
The increase in unemployment rate is also partly due to the temporary election-related jobs. This was also observed in January 2011, a year that followed the 2010 elections.
Also, the increase in unemployed Filipinos came from those with elementary education only (+128,000), followed by those with high school education (+88,000).
Youth and adult unemployment rates also went up to 15.6 percent and 4.8 percent, respectively, but the bulk of the increase in the unemployed came from adult workers (181,000).
“The prospects for job generation may be enhanced with the long pipeline of infrastructure projects for implementation on a 24/7 work mode basis under the current administration,” said Pernia.
According to him, given that several of these projects are going to be foreign-funded, the government must see to it that foreign contractors are made to agree to also recruit technical and blue-color workers who are available in our domestic labor market.
“Critical interventions to address youth unemployment are enumerated in the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022, particularly to reduce the number of the youth who are neither studying nor employed nor in training,” said Pernia.
He noted that scholarships and strengthening of linkages with vocational and technical schools and state universities/colleges offering TVET programs will provide access to a greater number of trainees.
“Policy and regulatory changes can also adversely affect employment. Government must continue skills development and retooling programs through continuing education and training for the affected workers, and adjust policies where warranted,” said Pernia.