Aquino should curb rising number of underemployment-A A +A
Saturday, September 17, 2011
ALTHOUGH the government should address joblessness, two economists on Saturday said the Aquino administration should also look into the case of 7.1 million underemployed Filipinos in July.
The underemployment rate, or the proportion of those employed but are still seeking more work, went up to 19.1 percent from 17.9 percent in July last year, data from the National Statistics Office show.
This should be a cause for concern, according to University of the Philippines economist Benjamin Diokno, since it highlights a weak domestic economy that fails to provide enough income for these employees and their families.
On a larger scale, however, nearly one of four 15-year old and above Filipinos who are actively looking for a job are either unemployed or underemployed, Diokno said, citing government statistics.
In terms of warm bodies, this category of workers reached 9.9 million in July up from 9.2 million, or by 720,000 from a year ago.
Asked for comment, Planning Secretary Cayetano Paderanga Jr. said negative developments abroad could have forced Filipino workers to seek other means of livelihood, thus increasing the underemployment rate in July.
These events include surges in world oil prices, the triple disasters in Japan, the slow recovery of the United States and Euro-zone, and the political conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region.
As for unemployment, which barely changed at 7.1 percent from 7 percent last year, Paderanga said the entry of thousands of college graduates was already reflected in the survey.
"With total employment growing by 2.4 percent, this higher growth of the labor force constrained improvement in unemployment," he said.
For its part, militant think tank IBON Foundation said the government has yet to present concrete gains from its employment program after the economy only grew 4 percent in the first half of the year.
“It (government) isn’t doing anything new to create jobs and is even underspending. For instance, it has to actively support small and medium Filipino manufacturers and invest in rural infrastructure for poor farmers,” IBON research head Sonny Africa told Sun.Star.
To address this concern, Paderanga said the government’s policy interventionsmust focus not only on the creation of more employment, but also in generating more decent, productive, and quality work.
“Aside from keeping our workers and their families out of poverty, this will also boost household consumption and domestic demand in general," he said.
But Diokno begged to disagree, saying policymakers will be faced with a difficult task of creating jobs in the months ahead.
On the supply side, he said that the number of workers will increase, partly due to rising population and limiting opportunities for work abroad.
Meanwhile, on the demand side, the number of jobs wanted by firms and farm owners will slow owing to the growing uncertainty arising from a harsher, slower, and more uncertain global economy.
“Rising supply of, combined with slowing demand for, labor, equal rising, not falling, unemployment.” Diokno said. (Sunnex)