Labor sector criticizes non-inclusive growth

Font Size

RISING joblessness in the Philippines shows economic growth has not trickled down to the masses, labor groups said yesterday.

“For all the growth the country has had, it hasn’t trickled down to ordinary folks,” Julius C. Cainglet, vice president of the Federation of Free Workers, said in a mobile-phone message.

Joblessness inched up in the third quarter to 21.5% or about 10 million adults, from 20.7% in June or about 9.8 million, according to a Social Weather Stations (SWS) poll released at the weekend.

“Big business owners managed to keep their wealth to themselves and their families,” Mr. Cainglet said. “Couple this with the recent World Bank study that said real wages in the Philippines nationwide, across regions and across skills have not increased over the past decade and a half, then you will see the worsening inequality and the proliferation of poverty for both the employed and the unemployed,” he added.

Philippine gross domestic product (GDP) growth averaged 5.8% in the past three quarters, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority. GDP growth stood at 6.2% in the third quarter.

The Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines said poor policies that don’t equate to employment opportunities have contributed to the rise in the joblessness rate.

“Unaddressed problems on the high cost of electricity, traffic congestion, red tape and poor and aging transport and logistics are the traditional main drivers of the recent survey showing an increase in the unemployment rate,” spokesperson Alan A. Tanjusay said in a statement yesterday.

A plan to rationalize corporate income taxes and incentives could drive away investors, he added.

The Department of Finance (DoF) expects to generate 1.5 million jobs once the measure takes effect. But the Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC) has said 700,000 workers will lose jobs under the proposed law.

“So as early as now, they begin to retrench employees and anticipate a full-blown shutdown and transfer as soon as the Corporate Income Tax and Incentives Rationalization Act becomes a law,” Mr. Tanjusay said.

Of the 10 million jobless Filipinos in September, 4.4 million voluntarily had left their jobs while 3.9 million were retrenched, according to SWS. Only 1.6 million were first time job seekers.

Despite the higher jobless rate, SWS cited the optimism of Filipinos on job availability — 53% of Filipinos said they were positive about job opportunities in the next 12 months. Only 13% were pessimistic.

The net optimism score was +40 for September, which was still excellent, but 3 points below the record +43 in June 2019, SWS said. — Gillian M. Cortez