Rising Joblessness, Underemployment Refute Improving Economy Claim

Mar. 18, 2006

MANILA — Employment statistics from the recently released January 2006 Labor Force Survey (LFS) belies governments claim of an improving economy, according to independent think-tank Ibon Foundation. The January 2006 LFS actually paints a picture of a weak, worsening economy unable to generate long-term, sustainable jobs, the foundation said.

According to the LFS, some 2.8 million Filipinos failed to find work in January 2006, up by 15% from 2.5 million in the same period last year. The decrease in jobs came from the industry sector, which shed some 95,000 jobs mostly from the manufacturing and construction sub-sectors. In a strong, vibrant economy, manufacturing should be the backbone of the countrys industrial sector and a major source of job creation.

Meanwhile, of the jobs created, more than half were unpaid family workers, while only 13% were wage and salary workers, meaning that there was not really any substantial growth in gainful employment.

The quality of the jobs to be had was also low, as seen in the sharp hike in the number of underemployed workers. The underemployed are defined as those who work less than 40 hours a week or who work 40 hours but still seek more work because they are not earning enough for their needs. The number of underemployed in January 2006 grew to some 6.9 million, or an increase of 1.8 million from its 5.1 million level in January 2005.

But even these already alarming figures do not reveal the true extent of joblessness in the country. Ibon estimates that the actual employment rate in the country is only 58.4% instead of the official 91.9%, while 41.6% suffer from job scarcity (including workers who leave for jobs abroad, housewives and other sectors considered not in the labor force but would work if only jobs were available, and the underemployed).

These downbeat employment figures only underscore the effects of the Arroyo administrations anti-developmental neoliberal policies, which government seems set to continue implementing, leaving Filipinos to make a living however they can. (Ibon)

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