Despite the prevailing global economic crisis, jobless Filipinos are now fewer, preliminary data from the National Statistics Office (NSO) showed.
The NSO said yesterday the number of unemployed Filipino in October dropped by 5.9 percent compared to the same period a year ago.
“The number of unemployed persons in October 2008 was 2.55 million or 160,000 less than the previous year,” it reported.
Results of the NSO Labor Force Survey also indicated a decline in the percentage of underemployed or those currently employed, but still desire to have additional jobs.
However, the NSO said the total 63.88 million number of employed persons in the country also went down by 360,000 or 0.6 percent compared to the previous year.
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) also previously reported continuing growth in the number of employed persons in the National Capital Region (NCR).
Based on a survey by the DOLE in the second quarter of the year, commercial firms in Metro Manila hired 20 additional workers per 1,000 current employees.
The BLES noted that the accession rate or addition to the existing work force among commercial establishment in the NCR was posted at 10.56 percent.
Separation rate, on the other hand, was reported at 8.57 percent during the same period. Most of the separation or termination of employment were initiated by employees.
Despite the termination, BLES survey indicated a positive employment growth of 1.99 percent for the big commercial establishments covered in the survey.
Labor Secretary Marianito Roque has expressed confidence that the global economic crisis will hardly affect the country’s local and overseas employment.
‘Bring home distressed OFWs’
Meanwhile, a group of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) called on President Arroyo to bring home all their distressed colleagues in the Middle East as her gift this Christmas.
Garry Martinez, Migrante International official, said Mrs. Arroyo should bring with her the over 3,000 distressed OFWs when she returns home from Qatar. “The most concrete thing this administration can do (to prove that her state visit is fruitful) is to bring distressed OFWs back to the Philippines and reunite them with their families before Christmas,” Martinez said.
He added that about 70 OFWs are languishing in Doha deportation cells while 25 others are at Salmiya jail in Kuwait.
“All the OFWs in detention in Kuwait are women and mostly working as domestic helpers. They were forced to run away from their employers,” Martinez noted.
He said the only crime these Filipinas committed was to save themselves from further abuse by their employers, but yet they were detained as criminals.
“Worse, Philippine embassy officials failed to support them in defending their cases and have not even visited them at all,” he lamented.
Martinez reminded Mrs. Arroyo about the case of 30 OFWs now in death row in the Middle East.
“Their appeals were turned down by the appellate court twice already,” Martinez said in a statement.
He added that there are also 3,000 OFWs barred from entering the United Arab Emirates and currently stranded in Kish, Iran.
Jobs available in Qatar
Trade Secretary Peter Favila, who arrived with President Arroyo before dawn yesterday from a three-day visit to Qatar, said the Emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani expressed great admiration for Filipinos working in his country.
It was initially reported that 37,000 new jobs for skilled workers would be made available by Qatar for Filipinos as part of the ongoing construction boom in the country.
Favila, relaying the report given by Secretary Roque, said that the Qatari government has granted 128,000 working visas exclusively for Filipinos.
Middle Eastern countries in general employ mostly workers from overseas and the Philippines is one of the biggest sources of labor for the region.
Speaking at the signing of the Renewable Energy Act of 2008 at Malacañang yesterday, the President stressed that employment overseas remains strong in spite of the global financial crisis.
“Very few of our expatriates have lost their jobs. In fact, employment overseas has held steady. Some jobs have gone, a little more than a thousand, but new jobs are being created like the 37,000 needed in Qatar,” the President said.
“So at this point there is no need to panic. That said, we never want even one of our hardworking Filipinos to lose a job so we are closely monitoring the impact of the global economic crisis on our workers,” she added.
While expressing confidence that the overseas job market is stable, the President assured that the government continues to take steps to look after the welfare of the overseas Filipinos, particularly in the event retrenchment takes place any time in the future. –- Mayen Jaymalin with Marvin Sy, Philippine Star