2.4M Filipinos jobless in April

SOME 2.443 million Filipinos were jobless in April, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said Friday.

In the April 2017 Labor Force Survey, the latest number of unemployed persons was lower compared to 2.625 million in April last year, or an unemployment rate of 5.7 percent from 6.1 percent.

The regions with the highest unemployment rate were Ilocos Region (10.4 percent), National Capital Region (7.2 percent) and Calabarzon (7.1 percent).

Unemployment rate in Western Visayas was at 5.8 percent; Central Visayas, 5.4 percent; and Eastern Visayas, 3.8 percent.

"Among the unemployed persons in April 2017, 63.7 percent were males. Of the total unemployed, the age group 15 to 24 years comprised 49.5 percent, while the age group 25 to 34, 29.3 percent. By educational attainment, 20.6 percent of the unemployed were college graduates, 13.7 percent were college undergraduates, and 33.5 percent have completed junior high school," PSA said.

Underemployment rate, or the proportion of employed persons wanting additional work, reached its lowest in more than 10 years at 16.1 percent in April, the agency said. Underemployment rate in April last year was at 18.3 percent.

Meanwhile, the employment rate in April was estimated at 94.3 percent, compared to 93.9 percent a year ago.

The labor force participation rate (LFPR) in April was estimated at 61.4 percent given the labor force population of 69.6 million. The LFPR in April 2016 was 63.5 percent. The labor force population consists of the employed and the unemployed 15 years old and above.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia noted that the services sector, which accounts for more than half of the country’s total employment, recorded a net employment loss of 557,000 workers.

“This loss could be an effect of the 2016 election spending fully tapering off. It is possible that recent changes in labor policies regarding contractual workers may have had an adverse effect on firms’ hiring decisions,” said Pernia, also head of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda).

He added that the government should innovate employment opportunities by developing low-cost, labor-intensive but efficient methods for meeting current infrastructure needs and essential health and education services.

“Close coordination between sectors should also be in place for easier skills-matching. We can further enhance current programs like the Government Internship Program (GIP) and JobStart Philippines to help workers make informed career decisions and acquire skills necessary in today’s competitive environment,” Pernia said.

A trend also worth noting is the decline in labor force participation of women to 46.2 percent from 48.9 percent last year. This presents a challenge in meeting the Philippine Development Plan target to increase labor force participation of women to 51.3 percent by 2022.

To reverse this trend, Neda noted that the government needs to work on the full implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law, on improving access and affordability of child care services, and on crafting policies that promote work-life balance, which is among the aspirations of Filipinos, according to a national survey for AmBisyon Natin 2040, the country’s long-term vision. (SDR/SunStar Philippines)

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