Growth in online jobs postings slows down

Published by rudy Date posted on April 12, 2010

ONLINE job postings grew at a slower pace in March from a year ago, weighed down by fewer job vacancies in the service sector and getting help mainly from a revival in the manufacturing sector.

Data provided by:

The Job Availability Index — a statistical measure using the total number of job placements at each month with the January 2007 as base year — rose by 32.2% or 72 index points to 295.7 in March, a four-month high, from 223.8 points the previous year.

The annual growth, while a rebound from February’s slump, was slower than the 113.5% hike in March 2009, when job postings more than doubled to 15,727 jobs year on year. A total of 20,785 jobs were posted vacant online last month.

The weaker results came despite a surge in the number of companies advertising vacancies via the Internet to 2,166 last month from just 1,480 during the same period last year.

“Despite the gradual recovery, we haven’t reached what we’ve lost from the crisis,” Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) chairman emeritus Donald G. Dee said in a telephone interview last Monday.

“I’m not sure if we’ll be able to go back to where we were before the crisis but if we do, it’s going to take time,” he added.

The service sector accounted for the biggest chunk at 88.3% of the total job postings online, or 18,348 jobs in March. Still, the sector’s 31.1% growth was a marked slowdown from the 138.4% increment recorded during the same month last year.

Jobs available in the sector could have been a result of mere replacements rather than a need for additional manpower due to business expansions, University of the Philippines economist Emmanuel F. Esguerra said.

“It could be an indication that the new hires were for replacement and it could also mean new hires replacing workers that are leaving for other jobs abroad. So it’s important to get a piece of the big picture,” Mr. Esguerra said in a separate interview.

“And the call center, [among others], is known for high-turnover jobs wherein employees quit their jobs in a short span to work in other call center companies,” he added.

Private services accounted for nearly three-fourths of total jobs in the service sector. Of these private services, human resources management and consulting firms announced 8,380 job vacancies, while call center companies posted 5,035 vacancies, an all-time high.

The slower growth in jobs in the service sector, however, was compensated by a significant jump in vacancies in the industry sector. The industry sector had 2,128 job postings, allowing its sub-index to rise by 48.2% last month from an annual rate of just 6.2% in March 2009.

Manufacturing firms took up 81.7% of the total, contributing 1,738 jobs to the industry sector. The manufacturing jobs index’s rise to 47% was a big leap from the 0.5% growth recorded in March last year.

PCCI’s Mr. Dee said the results indicate that manufacturing companies are recovering from the crisis, tracking an improving export industry.

“Increasing orders for export manufactures such as electronics helped manufacturers a lot. But we don’t know whether the growth is sustainable so we still have to watch out for that,” Mr. Dee said.

Producers of electronics fall under the category electrical machinery, an index heavyweight in the National Statistics Office’s (NSO) Monthly Integrated Survey of Selected Industries.

Factory output surged by 39.3% in January, the fastest growth recorded since 2000. Its revival followed the export industry which grew by a hefty 42.5% year-on-year that month.

University of Asia and the Pacific economist Victor A. Abola, however, noted that the service sector remains the country’s primary source of employment, particularly the growing industries of business process outsourcing (BPO) and real estate.

“The BPOs, definitely they’re not going to let up. They’ll provide a little bit more jobs outside Metro Manila, expanding in the rural areas,” Mr. Abola said.

Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPA/P) executive director for information and research Gillian Joyce G. Virata said the group is targeting 100,000 new jobs this year, compared with the annual 60,000 to 70,000 jobs offered in previous years.

According to a yet-to-be released BPA/P survey, titled: “BPAP Outsource to Philippines Periodic Survey: Philippines BPO 2010,” only 15% of the 160 information technology and BPO establishments included in the survey said they would not be expanding this year, Ms. Virata said.

“At least for these companies, the jobs available are for new hires and not for replacements,” Ms. Virata told BusinessWorld.

The full result of the survey, which was conducted between February and March this year, will be released by the end of the month, she said.

Asked which policies could help boost employment in the country, Mr. Dee said the government should focus on agriculture through a higher budget allocation and infrastructure. “I’m very traditional so I think increasing infrastructure projects in agriculture would continue to sustain economic growth and therefore increase the available jobs. But maybe we’ll just have to wait for the next administration until it puts policies in place,” he said.

Agriculture accounted for a meager 0.1% of the total online job postings, or 29 jobs in March, the lowest among all sectors. — Ma. Aizl Camille B. Cabarles

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