Employment rate hits record high at 94.7%

By Leslie Gatpolintan

March 7, 2018, 6:15 pm

MANILA -- The number of employed Filipinos increased in January as most sectors created more jobs on the back of sustained economic growth, the government reported Wednesday.

The Labor Force Survey (LFS) of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that employment rate surged to 94.7 percent in January 2018 from 93.4 percent during the same period last year, equivalent to 41.8 million Filipinos, the highest in all of the previous January rounds of the LFS since 2009.

“These improvements in the labor market indicate that more Filipinos are encouraged to join and re-join the labor force, and that more people are being employed. This signals that the economy is responding positively to the economic reforms and programs that the government has been laying down,” said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia.

The services sector remained the top employment contributor with a share of 55.9 percent, increasing by 3.8 percent despite the downbeat business outlook of firms for the first quarter.

Employment in agriculture grew by 8.4 percentage points to 26 percent employment share, employing an additional 841,000 workers.
The industry sector employed an additional 719,000 workers after expanding by 10.5 percentage points to 18.1 percent in January 2018, led by the increase in employment in construction and manufacturing.

“More jobs are expected to be created during the country’s infrastructure build up, which will not only ease traffic and promote regional development but also generate more quality jobs,” said Pernia.

The LFS indicated the country's unemployment rate thus dropped from 6.6 percent last year to 5.3 percent in January 2018, representing 2.3 million Filipino unemployed. This is the lowest rate recorded for all January rounds of the LFS in the past decade.

Underemployment rate, however, increased to 18 percent from 16.3 percent, or about 7.5 million Filipinos compared to the previous year's 6.4 million.

Underemployed are those employed persons who express the desire to have additional hours of work in their present job, or to have additional job, or to have a new job with longer working hours.

Pernia, also National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Director-General, further said the government must continue to raise investments and improve productivity to help boost the productive sectors of the economy and encourage the generation of higher quality employment opportunities.

He added that the government should facilitate the creation of new businesses and boost the outputs of firms by amending market regulations, tackling structural barriers and passing key reforms.
These include the reduction of foreign investment restrictions, as well as the passage of the Ease of Doing Business bill and Package 2 of the Tax Reform program, which will lower corporate taxes while rationalizing investment incentives.

Pernia, however, emphasized that there is a need to help move the labor force in the agriculture sector out of low-productivity jobs.

This could be facilitated by shifting rice farmers to high-value crops, promoting crop diversification, accelerating development of local infrastructure and training farmers in technological advancements, he said. (PNA)