Job qual­ity im­proves in Oc­to­ber de­spite in­creased unem­ploy­ment

Business World - - Front Page - By Marissa Mae M. Ramos Re­searcher

THE LAT­EST la­bor data in Oc­to­ber bared a mixed pic­ture as unem­ploy­ment inched up, but the ranks of those want­ing more work thinned.

The pre­lim­i­nary re­port of the Oc­to­ber 2018 round of the la­bor force sur­vey (LFS) con­ducted by the Philip­pine Statis­tics Au­thor­ity (PSA) and re­leased yes­ter­day put the unem­ploy­ment rate at 5.1%, equiv­a­lent to 2.2 mil­lion in­di­vid­u­als, com­pared to five per­cent in the year-ago sur­vey.

For the year, unem­ploy­ment rate av­er­aged 5.3%, which is at the up­per end of the 4.7-5.3% tar­get set for 2018 un­der the Philip­pine Devel­op­ment Plan 2017-2022.

At the same time, the qual­ity of avail­able jobs im­proved as the un­der­em­ploy­ment rate — the pro­por­tion of those al­ready work­ing but still look­ing for more work or longer work­ing hours — de­creased to 13.3% from 15.9% in the same com­par­a­tive pe­ri­ods, equiv­a­lent to 5.502 mil­lion Filipinos, from 6.616 mil­lion a year ago.

“This is equiv­a­lent to 1.1 mil­lion less un­der­em­ployed work­ers from last year’s 6.6 mil­lion. This is the low­est un­der­em­ploy­ment rate recorded for all Oc­to­ber rounds since 2006 (20.3%),” the Na­tional Eco­nomic and Devel­op­ment Au­thor­ity (NEDA) said in a state­ment. “This sig­nals that the qual­ity of work is im­prov­ing even out­side the

Na­tional Cap­i­tal Re­gion (NCR). We at­trib­uted this to ex­pand­ing em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties and the ap­proval of nom­i­nal in­creases in re­gional wages sup­ported by la­bor pro­duc­tiv­ity im­prove­ments,” So­cioe­co­nomic Plan­ning Sec­re­tary Ernesto M. Per­nia was quoted in the NEDA state­ment as say­ing.

Un­der­em­ploy­ment rate in ar­eas out­side NCR “sig­nif­i­cantly de­clined” to 14.6% in Oc­to­ber 2018 from last year’s 17%, which is also the low­est in over a decade, NEDA’s state­ment fur­ther read.

Un­der­em­ploy­ment in the NCR im­proved to 4.8% in Oc­to­ber 2018 ver­sus last year’s 8.6%.

Fur­ther­more, the per­cent­age of “dis­cour­aged job seek­ers” de­clined to 11.5%, which is bet­ter than the 12% tar­get for 2018.

“How­ever, of the to­tal youth pop­u­la­tion, 19.9% is nei­ther in em­ploy­ment nor in ed­u­ca­tion in 2018, but still falling within the PDP tar­get of 19.5-21.5%,” noted NEDA.

The size of the la­bor force was ap­prox­i­mately 43.563 mil­lion out of 71.886 mil­lion Filipinos at least 15 years old, yield­ing a par­tic­i­pa­tion rate of 60.6%, down from 62.1% a year ago.

NEDA also noted that around 826,000 new jobs were gen­er­ated in 2018, less than the govern­ment’s an­nual tar­get of 900,0001.1 mil­lion.

“This slightly higher [unem­ploy­ment] and lower la­bor par­tic­i­pa­tion may ac­tu­ally point to de­clines in both agri­cul­ture and ser­vices sec­tors,” said Ruben Carlo O. Asun­cion, chief econ­o­mist at the Union Bank of the Philip­pines, Inc. (UnionBank).

Em­ploy­ment share of agri­cul­ture and ser­vices fell to 24.1% (from 25%) and 56.8% (from 57%). On the other hand, in­dus­try saw its share of em­ploy­ment go up to 19.1% from 18% pre­vi­ously.

Much of the in­creased un­der­em­ploy­ment rate was seen in agri­cul­ture, with a 37.9% rate in Oc­to­ber that was worse than last year’s 32.6%. Un­der­em­ploy­ment in in­dus­try and ser­vices im­proved to 18.8% and 43.2% from 19.5% and 47.9%, re­spec­tively.

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