MANILA, Philippines – The economic crisis affecting the country is almost over, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) reported yesterday.
Labor officials said the results of the National Statistics Office (NSO) survey indicating substantial growth in employment clearly proved that the country has bounced back from the financial slump.
“Based on the NSO data, the country generated 1.7 million new employment from January last year. The figure is one of the highest employment growth we have recorded in recent years,” officials from the DOLE’s Bureau of Labor and Employment Statistics (BLES) said.
Despite the fact that more people entered the labor force, the officials noted that the employment growth posted in January was three times higher compared to the 569,000 new jobs generated during the same period in 2009.
“Aside from higher employment growth, the rate of full time employment and the number of wage salary workers went up while the number of part time workers went down as well as the number of self-employed meaning we are in good direction,” the officials added.
Manufacturing and construction industries, sectors that suffered the most as a result of the economic crisis, have also bounced back from the crisis and posted employment growth in January.
Labor officials even considered the rise in number of underemployed or those looking for additional jobs in the January survey as a proof of economic recovery.
“More people looking for additional is actually an indication that people believe that the economy has already recovered and more employment opportunities are available to them,” they explained.
However, BLES officials also warned of minor displacement in the agriculture sector in the coming months due to El Niño.
“El Niño can bring about a rise in unemployment in the agri sector, but it would be temporary and minimal since the affected sector would likely find jobs in the other industries,” they stressed. But Nationalista Party senatorial bet and former Labor Undersecretary Susan Ople said the results of the latest NSO labor force survey was “deceptive.”
“We shouldn’t just look at the numbers but also on the quality of jobs being generated. Most of these jobs are seasonal and contractual, and some are even campaign- or election-driven,” Ople pointed out.
Ople then warned of further increase in unemployment and underemployment rates, particularly in the provinces affected by the on-going power crisis.
According to Ople, the NSO findings that the bulk of increase in employment were in the service sector where labor-only contracting is fast becoming the norm than the exception.
NSO data showed that the number of underemployed reached 7.1 million, equivalent to an underemployment rate of 19.2 percent, up from last year’s 18.2 percent.
“It is quite alarming that though unemployment dropped by just 0.4 percent, the number of underemployed Filipinos went up by 1.5 percent,” Ople said.
The unemployment figures can also be deceptive because the new definition of unemployment excludes those who are no longer looking for work because they are resigned to not finding any, she explained.
Labor partylist group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) also warned of higher unemployment as close to a million college graduates join the labor force next month.
“Of the one million graduates this March, over 90,000 are unlikely to find jobs,” PM chair Renato Magtubo said while noting that he based the projections from past NSO surveys. –Mayen Jaymalin (The Philippine Star)