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MANILA – The government aims to bring down the unemployment rate close to pre-pandemic level of around 5 to 5.5 percent this year, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez said Tuesday.
 
In a virtual presser of the Presidential Communications Operations Office-Office of the Global Media and Public Affairs, Lopez said the unemployment rate slowed down to 6.5 percent last November from a peak of 17.6 percent in April 2020.
 
“Our goal in 2022 is to further increase our job generation efforts to close down (the) unemployment rate nearer to pre-pandemic levels,” he said.
 
Last year, the Task Force Group on Economic Recovery-National Employment Recovery Strategy (TGER-NERS) was created to address job shedding across different industries due to adverse impact of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
 
From January to November 2021, the TGER-NERS contributed some 913,498 in job generation.
 
Some 162,861 jobs were created through Department of Labor and Employment’s initiatives —105,493 jobs under the Special Program for Employment of Students, 46,271 jobs under Government Internship Program, 6,309 jobs under the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Displaced/Disadvantaged Workers (TUPAD) Program, and 4,788 jobs for contract tracers under TUPAD Program.
 
The Department of Transportation also generated 11,201 jobs under its service contracting program; the Department of Public Works and Highway (DPWH), through the “Build, Build, Build” program, created some 691,071 jobs from January to August last year; the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Support to National Convergence and Initiatives for Sustainable Rural Development contributed 2,805 jobs; and the Department of Science and Technology’s Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program generated some 1,629 jobs in the first eight months of last year.
 
For DTI alone, some 43,931 jobs were generated through its self-employment and entrepreneurship programs, such as the Livelihood Seeding Program-Negosyo Serbisyo sa Barangay (40,752 jobs) and Pangkabuhayan sa Pagbangon at Ginhawa (3,179 jobs).
 
“Let us continue making sure to build back better in 2022, and we foresee that this would not be an easy undertaking,” Lopez said, citing the threats of natural calamities and the possibility of new Covid-19 strains in the future.
 
He said the employment condition is sensitive to the restriction of mobility, thus the government now focuses its policy towards a targeted rather than blanket protocols, such as doing away wide-area lockdowns and shifting to home isolation like what happened during this Omicron surge when people voluntarily stayed at home and there is no need to further heighten to Alert Level 4.
 
Lopez added the key to keep the economy open and avoid job losses is to boost vaccination efforts to protect every Filipino from Covid-19, and provide better healthcare services. (PNA)