Employment rate up amid global woes

Published by rudy Date posted on April 28, 2009

The Philippines has been spared so far from the global crisis, as evidenced by an increase in employment rate of 1.7 percent from January to mid-April, when 500,000 new jobs were created, an official reported Tuesday.

Director Rebecca Chato of the Bureau of Labor Relations said she was also optimistic about the underemployment rate, which was 18.2 percent during the period. For all of 2008, that rate was 18.9 percent—a difference of 0.7 percent.

But she added that the unemployment rate increased 0.3 percent to 7.7 percent in April 2009 from 7.4 percent in the same period in 2008. The increase translated into 180,000 more jobless Filipinos.

Chato also pointed out that the country has so far managed to evade the crippling effect of the global financial crunch, citing a steady increase—27.3 percent—in the deployment rate of over seas Filipino workers (OFWs) as of February 2009. The figure means that some 60,740 Filipino workers have been deployed since the start of the year.

The deployment rate corresponds with the earlier figure released by the Labor department, saying that the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) processes daily more than 3,000 Filipino workers bound for foreign jobs.

“OFWs are still in demand with about 757,547 POEA-approved employments on hand,” she said during the global crisis forum organized by the National Conference of Employers on Tuesday.

The top 10 destinations for Filipino migrant workers, Chato said, are Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Kuwait, Singapore, Italy, Canada and Bahrain.

“At the moment, we are not experiencing the effects of the crisis. We can hardly feel it compared with what was forecasted before . . . since we are able to provide employment for displaced workers,” she added.

Jobs in the Philippines

Chato said the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector has generated about 100,000 to 110,000 local jobs since the crisis hit the Philippines, and the construction industry was also expected to expand, as infrastructure projects were bound to keep workers employed.

“So far, we consider the BPO as a bright sector and [hardly affected at all] . . . Construction is expected to increase because of government infrastructure projects, which means more construction works for Pinoys,” she explained.

The bureau director also cited mining, real estate and the tourism industries to post growth because of high demand for housing and proliferation of mining projects that would eventually provide employments for operators, engineers and mining laborers.

Sectors hurting

Chato said that the area most badly hit by the global crunch is the semiconductor industry, a development that is compelling some companies to partner with the energy sector to build new plants and produce solar cells instead.

The government, she added, has also organized a number of projects to help mitigate the effects of the crisis.

“The Labor department provides assistance for displaced workers, like job matching and job assessment . . . as well as livelihood training assistance,” she said, adding that Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) has been extending scholarship grants to its trainees.

She stated that the tripartite program and multisectoral consultations held by the Labor department with various leaders from business industries, workers organizations, other stakeholders and local governments help in the department’s effort to lessen the impact of the financial crunch.

The departments’ one-stop shops, quick reaction teams and localized interventions are significant in combating the crisis, Chato said. –Bernice Camille V. Bauzon , Reporter, Manila Times

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