To sustain the country’s recent employment gains and ensure that Filipinos can secure the jobs of the future, workers need to enroll in upskilling and lifelong learning programs, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda).
On Friday, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported that the country’s unemployment rate was at 4.3 percent, the second lowest since April 2005 when the government changed the definition of unemployment, adopting the ILO’s. In November 2022, the jobless rate was at 4.2 percent. (Earlier story here: https://businessmirror.com.ph/2023/07/07/unemployment-down-to-second-lowest-rate-in-may-psa/).
There were a total of 2.17 million unemployed Filipinos in May, a 760,000 decline year on year from the 2.93 million posted in May 2022. This was also 89,000 less than the 2.26 million posted in April 2023.
Neda Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan said retooling and upskilling as well as lifelong learning programs are already being offered by both government and private education and training institutions.
“We welcome partnerships with the private sector, including international organizations, to ensure that our government services, particularly with respect to employment facilitation, upskilling or retooling, and promoting workers’ protection, are on the same level with global best practices,” Balisacan said.
Balisacan added that establishing an enabling regulatory environment to improve the ease of doing business and encourage innovation remain as top priorities to attract investors who have the technology and resources to bring in high-quality jobs.
“To achieve our near and medium-term targets, it is important that the government remains committed to fostering a favorable investment climate to address critical constraints to high-quality job creation,” he said.
Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) Chief Economist Michael Ricafort said apart from these, further reopening the economy will ensure that businesses increase their sales and incomes and ensure the jobs of their workers. Increased sales could also mean more jobs for Filipinos.
He said among the reasons for the improvement in the country’s employment numbers had to do with higher demand brought by the Holy Week in April 2023, which is “considered as the second biggest holiday season after the Christmas season.”
Ricafort also said the summer vacation season which lasted until around May 2023 and shortly after the school break entailed the hiring/employment of more workers by some businesses/industries.
“The continued easing trend in inflation (that earlier increased input prices/production costs) and, eventually, support easing of interest rates/borrowing costs/financing costs; all of which would support/sustain further improvement in the country’s jobs/employment data, going forward,” Ricafort said.
In terms of underemployment, the PSA said the number of these Filipinos reached 5.66 million in May 2023. This is 1.01 million less than the 6.67 million recorded in May 2022 and 543,000 less than the 6.2 million posted in April 2023.
The PSA said the country’s Labor Force Participation Rate (LFPR) stood at 65.3 percent, higher than the reported LFPR in May 2022 at 64 percent and in April 2023 at 65.1 percent.
In terms of magnitude, there were 50.43 million individuals aged 15 years old and over who were either employed or unemployed in May 2023.
The average hours worked in a week by an employed person in May 2023 was 39.3 hours, which was slightly lower than the estimate in May 2022 at 39.8 hours per week.
However, this was higher than the average hours worked in April 2023 at 36.9 hours per week.
Diokno touts macro policies
Meanwhile, Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno also said the Philippine government continues to implement sound macroeconomic policies to ensure that the country’s macroeconomic fundamentals remain strong amid the global economic slowdown and uncertainty.
Diokno said the continued downtrend in inflation and the government’s sound fiscal position will help maintain a conducive environment that will encourage more investments and create greater employment opportunities.
He noted that the President’s economic team has been conducting bilateral meetings, investor roadshows, and Philippine Economic Briefings (PEBs) abroad to attract foreign direct investments, increase private sector participation in strategic projects, and facilitate the creation of more, better, and green jobs.
“The administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is hard at work to boost productivity through higher public investments in human capital development. This is bolstered by our efforts to attract investments into the country, which will have a positive impact on the creation of more quality jobs,” Diokno added.
Neda noted that the administration affirms its commitment to achieve a high-quality labor market in the country as unemployment and underemployment rates hit their second lowest records since April 2005.
The country’s underemployment rate went down to 11.7 percent from 14.5 percent in May 2022, equivalent to 1 million fewer underemployed persons.
Balisacan assured the public that the government will continue to push for and implement game-changing reforms to improve the country’s business investment climate, especially for foreign investors, and help in sustaining current labor market gains.