‘Almost miraculous’ LFS stirs lawmaker’s optimism on job generation amid Covid-19

A leader of the House of Representatives on Thursday laid out a broad outline for a job-creation plan for the rest of the year following the “almost miraculous” results of the Labor Force Survey (LFS) of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

While LFS results show the resilience of the Philippine economy, House Committee on Ways and Means Committee Chairman Joey Salceda urged Congress to pass job-creating measures.

“The second quarter job numbers are almost miraculous and demonstrate that the country’s underlying economy remains fundamentally resilient, despite seemingly slower progress in aggregate demand. This is a strongly encouraging sign that our economy can return to its high-growth path as soon as we can defeat Covid-19. At the same time, we will have to work on restoring confidence among consumers and businesses,” the lawmaker said.

“7.5 million more Filipinos went to work in the second quarter compared to the first quarter. This is a remarkable development. The unemployment rate also declined from the April highs of 17.7 percent. This means that as we gradually reopen the economy, we will see further improvements in the job situation,” Salceda added.

According to the LFS data, year-on-year and the number of unemployed persons increased by 2.1 million but declined 37 percent compared to the first quarter, when the most stringent lockdowns were implemented.

“We should be able to achieve further improvements during the rest of the year with the Bayanihan 2 stimulus coming, and if we can keep Covid-19 contained. I already have the assurance of the Executive [branch] that there will be funding for an ‘enhanced’ Build, Build, Build [program],” Salceda said.

“Around 25 centavos of every peso spent on infrastructure goes to labor costs, so infrastructure will be crucial. In the private sector, I also expect an immediate boost of at least 300,000 new jobs due to the passage of the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises and the investor confidence and certainty that it will induce. I hope the Senate passes this soon,” the lawmaker said.

According to Salceda, the construction of the Bulacan airport and the digital economy improvements will create more jobs for Filipinos.

“The need for job creation is also why I strongly pushed for a revision of the proposed New Manila International Airport franchise and the adjacent economic zone. Under the original proposal, the franchise and ecozone components would have been tackled together in one bill, with potentially contentious tax and economic provisions,” Salceda said.

“It’s a relief that we were able to reemploy 7.7 percent of the labor force in the span of a quarter. Clearly, the fundamentals of the economy are strong. We will do even better with CREATE and other job-creating initiatives such as the P740-billion Bulacan Airport, and improvements in the digital economy,” he said.

Salceda submitted an urgent aide memoire to the House leadership outlining his recommended changes to the original proposal under House Bill 7241. The subsequently revised franchise under House Bill  7507 and ecozone bill under House Bill 7575.

Salceda added the shift to the digital economy and to agriculture was the main driver of improvements in the job figures.

“Sectoral growth mostly came from the newly self-employed and the farm sector. This is why I am pushing for the Faster Internet Bill, the Satellite Liberalization Act, and exempting online barter and small online businesses from taxation. The small online businesses are the new saviors of the economy, along with our farmers,” he said.


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