Philippine unemployment rate eases in April but job shortage remains

Source:Xinhua Published: 2012-6-16 10:32:32

A survey of the labor force in the Philippines showed that the unemployment rate has dropped slightly to 6.9 percent in April from the 7.2 percent registered in the same period last year.

According to the National Statistics Office (NSO), which conducted the survey, there were about 2.803 million Filipinos who were unemployed in April this year, while the figure in the same period in 2011 was 2.871 million.

The survey results, which were released on Friday, showed that number of Filipinos who were underemployed rose to 7.312 million in April this year compared to the 7.127 million recorded during the same period last year.

The underemployment rate in April was at 19.3 percent, which was lower than the 19.4 percent recorded a year ago.

Underemployed persons are those who either want an additional job or more hours in their current job, or have a new job with longer working hours.

The survey also revealed that the country's employment rate was at 93.1 percent, compared to the 92.8 percent recorded in April 2011. It also showed that an estimated 37.8 million Filipinos have jobs in April.

Metro Manila, which has a population of more than 10 million, registered the highest unemployment rate at 10.4 percent.

What is significant in the latest survey is that more than one- half, or 51.7 percent of those without jobs, are between the ages of 15 to 27.

Almost one-third, or 32.8 percent, of the young unemployed Filipinos are high school graduates, 13.8 percent are college undergraduates, and 21 percent are college graduates.

In April, of the estimated 62.8 million Filipinos, aged 15 and above, 40.6 million are in the labor force, up slightly from the estimated 39.7 million recorded in April 2011.

Despite of the slight decrease of the unemployment rate in April, the shortage of jobs has continued to be a nagging problem in the Philippines.

A study made by an international research group showed the unemployment rate in the country has steadily increased from 1990 until 2000.

After a slight decline in 2001, the rate continued to rise until it peaked at 11.7 percent in 2005 before it dropped to 8.7 percent in 2006.

Even with the slight drop in April, the unemployment rate in the Philippines is still much higher than other South East Asian countries, whose rates tend to stay below 6 percent.

The research group cited the much higher population growth in the Philippines compared to its neighbors as the main cause of the country's high unemployment rate. The Philippines has now a population of almost 100 million.

"Mixed with poor economic performance, the high population is problematic. There are just too many people and not enough jobs, or money or resources to create more jobs," the study said.

It said that employment opportunities have failed to keep up with growing number of Filipinos joining the labor force.

Another factor that compounds the unemployment problem is the low gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the Philippines, which was only 3.7 percent last year, the lowest in the region.

The study said that less economic activities mean less spending by companies and thus making it difficult to create new jobs for the people.

Another criticism aired by some sectors is that the country's education system continues to turn out college graduates whose training and skills are not attuned to the needs of the labor market both at home and abroad.

Human resource groups and labor recruitment officials have decried the continuing popularity of glamorous and white-collar courses that produce diplomas but not well-paying jobs.

Politicians and the private sector have also criticized this mismatch in college training and job opportunities but the government so far has failed to institute meaningful and concrete measures to correct this dilemma.

Posted in: Asia-Pacific

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