Unemployment up, at 6.8% in October

By Darwin G. Amojelar, Reporter

The number of unemployed Filipinos rose slightly in October to 6.8 percent, dragged by the weak performance of the economy, particularly the services and industry sectors, the government reported Tuesday.

The government earlier reported that the economy, as measured by gross domestic product (GDP) slowed to 4.6 percent in the first three quarters of this year compared with 7.1 percent in the same period last year. GDP is the total value of all final goods and services produced in a country within a year.

The economy in the third quarter has been damaged but not quite ravaged by the global financial turmoil and high oil prices, the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) earlier said.

The National Statistics Office (NSO) said the unemployment rate rose to 6.8 percent, or 2.53 million, in October from 6.3 percent, or 2.25 million, in the same month last year.

But the unemployment rate in October was lower than the 7.4 percent registered in July.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ralph Recto said the global financial crisis and high oil and food prices restrained the country from gaining more employment in 2008.

“The higher unemployment rate signals that the government needs to take immediate actions in creating and safeguarding employment and livelihood for the Filipinos,” he added. “As two-thirds of the world economy is now entering recession and the global financial crisis has already afflicted the real sector of the country’s economy, it is imperative that the government pays utmost attention to the objective of creating and saving as many jobs as possible. This will help minimize the adverse impact of the crisis to the most vulnerable sectors of the economy.”

Statistics breakdown

The statistics agency reported that the highest unemployment rate was recorded in Metro Manila at 12.8 percent, followed by Calabarzon (the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon), 10 percent and Central Luzon, 8.1 percent.

The National Statistics Office said 32.9 percent of the unemployed Filipinos were high-school graduates; 22.1 percent, college undergraduates comprised about one-fifth, while the college graduates, 18.9 percent.

Out of about 58.2 million population 15 years old and over in October, 37.1 million persons were in the labor force or 63.7 percent. Last year’s labor force participation rate was 63.2 percent.

The number of employed persons in October was estimated at 34.5 million or an employment rate at 93.2 percent, lower from last year’s 93.7 percent.

The statistics office said the National Capital Region posted the lowest employment rate at 87.2 percent. Besides that region, Central Luzon with 91.9 percent and Calabarzon, 90 percent had employment rates below the national value of 93.2 percent.

Of the total employed Filipinos, the agency reported that 49.6 percent were in the services sector—down by 1.6 percent from last year’s 51.2 percent.

Employment in industry sector also decline to 14.7 percent from 15.2 percent last year, and agriculture to 35.7 percent from 36.1 percent.

In terms of occupation, laborers and unskilled workers constituted the largest group at 32.6 percent of the total employed persons in October 2008. Farmers, forestry workers and fishermen were the second-largest group, accounting for 17.7 percent of the total employed population.

Underemployment rate

The country’s underemployment rate in October was estimated at 17.5 percent or about 6 million people.

Around 3.7 million or 61.8 percent of the total underemployed persons were reported as visibly underemployed or working fewer than 40 hours during the reference week.

“Most of the underemployed were working in the agriculture sector [48.8 percent] and services sector [36 percent]. The underemployed in the industry sector accounted for 15.2 percent,” according to the National Statistics Office.

Recto, also the director general of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), said the government would speed up the creation of employment by ensuring that the allocated budget is fully and efficiently spent.

“Resources will be shifted from slow to fast-moving and uncomplicated projects with visible employment results,” he added.

Recto said another step to be taken is to encourage firms and households to make the recent income tax measures like lower corporate income tax rate, exemption of minimum wage earners from paying income taxes, increase in personal exemption of non-minimum wage earners an opportunity for business expansions and entrepreneurial activities.

Common action plan

He also said the tripartite (government, business, and labor) common action plan would be continued through “decisive dialogue on coping mechanisms to preserve as much employment as possible, while making industries cost-effective and productive.”

Another measure for employment generation is to intervene for the young labor force by offering more training vouchers and scholarships, Recto said, adding that this initiative would “help create a better human resource that is ready for the economic upturn.”

Recto said the allocated budget would also be maximized by increasing and fast-tracking the employment of educators, health workers and law enforcers commensurate to the needs of the sectors.

But he warned that while “this could help safeguard the nation from the social fallouts of the global slump, it should be done efficiently by ensuring that problems of misallocation of government employees are addressed.”

Helping SMEs

The authority official likewise said government would intensify support to small and medium enterprises and entrepreneurs by facilitating the provision of credit, technology and marketing assistance.

Recto outlined these initiatives as part of the economic sustainability plan in the light of the global slowdown, which he said must be “multi-pronged in creating and safeguarding Filipino employment and livelihood.”(ManilaTimes)


One Response to “Unemployment up, at 6.8% in October”

  1. Susan Says:

    About.com reported that employers use 3 job sites most to find quality candidates.

    http://www.linkedin.com (professional networking)
    http://www.indeed.com (aggregated listings)
    http://www.realmatch.com (matches you to jobs)

    Good luck to those seeking work.

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