LABOR LEADERS polled by BusinessWorld said that the Philippine Statistics Authority’s (PSA) latest report of a lower unemployment rate is mainly due to the election period, and stressed the need for more developments in the agricultural and industrial sectors to create more gainful and sustainable jobs.
Last week, the PSA reported in its Labor Force Survey (LFS) that the employment rate as of April 2019 was 94.9%, higher than the same period last year at 94.5%.
The labor force participation rate of Filipinos also grew to 42.24 million from 40.9 million during the month in review.
Nagkaisa Labor Coalition Spokesperson (NAGKAISA) Renato B. Magtubo said the growth of the labor force was only temporary due to activities relating to the May 13 midterm elections.
“(T)he recent LFS results paint a picture of the country’s economy, which is anemic in generating employment opportunities despite the government’s build, build, build program. It also tells the government and the private sector to train their efforts and resources to the development of local industries and agriculture in order to generate gainful employment to a growing population of the labor force,” he said on Saturday.
Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) Chair Leody De Guzman also said there is a need “for government to invest in national industrialization.”
“Buhayin ang industriya ng Garment, paunlarin ang pagtatanim at pag-hahayupan — mga labor — intensive ng industriya at sa huli ay buhayin ang industriya ng bakal na pundasyon para sa iba pang sub-industry. Hindi sustainable na trabaho kung pagtatayo lang ng mga imprastratura (We should revive the garments industry, develop farming and livestock, which are labor-intensive industries, and in the end, also revive the steel industry which is a foundation for other sub-industries. It is not sustainable to simply produce jobs through infrastructure building),” Mr. De Guzman said in a text message.
Associated Labor Unions- Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) Spokesperson Alan A. Tanjusay expressed the same position that the lower level of unemployment was brought about by the election season that started in January.
He said on Friday, “The decline in unemployment is because many were hired during the campaign season. Many were temporarily hired to work in various tasks in the campaign of candidates.”
Unemployment as of April 2019 dropped to 5.1% from 5.5% in the same period last year this year while underemployment also saw a decline to 13.5% from 17%.
Mr. De Guzman said despite this decline, the number of unemployed Filipinos remains in the millions.
He cited the Social Weathers Stations (SWS) report in September 2018 that indicates local joblessness was still high.
“Ang 5.1% unemployment rate sa sariling sukatan ng Gobyerno ay malaki pa rin kumpara sa 4th Quarter ng taong 2016 na 4.7% lamang pero malayong malayo ito sa sukatan naman ng SWS na 19.7 % ang unemployment ngayon. Katumbas ng 9.7 M na walang trabaho (The 5.1% unemployment rate as measured by the government is still high compared to the 4th quarter 2016 that was only 4.7%, but that is still far from the measurement of SWS, which states current unemployment at 19.7%. This is still 9.7 million unemployed), he said.
“Artipisyal at pansamantala lamang ang pagtaas ng bilang ng may trabaho sa bansa (The rise of the employment rate is only artificial and temporary),” he added.
Mr. Tanjusay added that the government should have a stricter implementation of labor laws and ensure that businesses comply.
”Because government is always threatened by businesses with capital flight, shutdown and unemployment, the enforcement of labor laws is always lacking,” he said. — Gillian M. Cortez