NEDA: Agri sector loss causes employment decline in Jan

By ADRIAN STEWART CO

Sunday, March 19, 2017

MANILA – The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said the decline in the number of employed Filipinos in January 2017 was partly due to the losses in the agriculture sector brought about by recent typhoons.

Based on the Labor Force Survey (LFS) data from Philippine Statistics Authority, the country’s employment rate declined to 93.4 on January from 94.3 percent in the same period last year.

“This translates to 39.3 million employed Filipinos, which is 1.34 million or 3.3 percent lower than in January 2016,” said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia.

“We mainly observe the employment losses in the agriculture sector, which has been greatly affected by typhoons “Nina” and “Auring” that hit our country last December and January,” Pernia added.

Pernia also noted that the agriculture sector accounts for the second largest share of total employed at 25.5 percent, which has shed an estimated 882,000 workers or two-thirds of the employment losses.

“The government must focus interventions to diversify the sources of income of our workers in the agriculture sector, increase labor participation of women, and address youth unemployment and underutilization,” Pernia said.

The underemployment, which refers to those who are working but wanted more work, improved to 16.3 percent or 1.6 million workers lower from last year’s 19.7 percent. The rate is the lowest recorded for all LFS January rounds since 2006.

Meanwhile, the unemployment rate in the country increased to 6.6 percent in January 2017 from last year’s 5.7 percent. While higher than the previous year, it is lower than the average of 7.4 percent recorded from 2006-2015.

“The increase in unemployment rate is also partly due to the temporary election-related jobs. This was also observed in January 2011, a year that followed the 2010 elections,” Pernia said.

Youth and adult unemployment rates also went up to 15.6 percent and 4.8 percent, respectively, but the bulk of the increase in the unemployed came from adult workers (181,000).

“The prospects for job generation may be enhanced with the long pipeline of infrastructure projects for implementation on a 24/7 work mode basis under the current administration,” said Pernia.

According to him, given that several of these projects are going to be foreign-funded, the government must see to it that foreign contractors are made to agree to also recruit technical and blue-color workers who are available in our domestic labor market.

“Critical interventions to address youth unemployment are enumerated in the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022, particularly to reduce the number of the youth who are neither studying nor employed nor in training,” said Pernia.

He noted that scholarships and strengthening of linkages wit vocational and technical schools and state universities/colleges offering TVET programs will provide access to a greater number of trainees.

 

“Policy and regulatory changes can also adversely affect employment. Government must continue skills development and retooling programs through continuing education and training for the affected workers, and adjust policies where warranted,” said Pernia./PN