Metro Manila Q4 jobs growth slows

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EMPLOYMENT growth among large Metro Manila firms slowed in the fourth quarter of 2017.

In its latest quarterly Labor Turnover Survey, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said labor turnover in Metro Manila was 1.38% in the final three months of 2017, easing from the 3.36% logged in the comparable period in 2016.

This means that for every 1,000 persons employed, 14 people were added to the workforce on a net basis during the quarter.

The labor turnover rate is the difference between the rate of accession or hiring and the rate of separation or job termination or resignation.

The rate of accession — which represents hiring by employers to either replace former employees or expand their workforce — stood at 8.27% in the fourth quarter, slipping from 11.14% in the comparable three month period.

The rate of separation — which covers termination and resignation — stood at 6.88%, also down from 7.79% in 2016’s survey period.

More people were hired in the fourth quarter due to business expansion, having a 4.20% accession rate, compared to those who were employed due to the replacement of former workers at 4.06%.

“This reflects continued improvement in the Philippine net jobs created in the latest quarter, though slower compared to a year ago,” said Michael L. Ricafort, economist at the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp (RCBC).

Union Bank of the Philippines (UnionBank) chief economist Ruben Carlo O. Asuncion was of a similar view, saying that job quality “may have been better than now” than in the year prior.

“But, it can also mean that there are less job opportunities, forcing labor to stay put rather than go and risk to look for another job. Looking at the bigger perspective, it might be more of the former rather than the later,” Mr. Asuncion said.

Land Bank of the Philippines (Landbank) market economist Guian Angelo S. Dumalagan cited “normalization” in 2017 as opposed to 2016 when job figures were given a temporary lift due to election spending.

“The labor turnover rate in the fourth quarter of 2016 was relatively high, as election-related spending likely increased temporary employment. The same rate fell last year following the normalization in domestic economic activity,” he said.

On the aggregate, the labor turnover rate was highest in the services sector, at 1.65% following an 8.68% hiring rate and 7.04% separation rate.

Meanwhile, the industry sector posted a 0.43% turnover rate with accession and separation rates reaching 6.69% and 6.26%, respectively.

On the other hand, agriculture saw a -4.61% net job creation rate after its separation rate (6.48%) outpaced that of the sector’s accession rate (1.87%).

The economists noted that this is not surprising especially with services leading the major groups in labor turnover.

“It would be expected that the services sector has the highest labor turnover because it is the largest labor group,” said UnionBank’s Mr. Asuncion.

Landbank’s Mr. Dumalagan pointed to “the country’s booming services sector and higher demand for temporary employment.”

For RCBC’s Mr. Ricafort, the trend “reflects the continued pickup in employment in the services sector,” which accounted for more than half of the country’s jobs and economic output over the years.

On the flip side, Mr. Ricafort noted that “[i]n recent years, some jobs have shifted from the agricultural sector, which accounts for about a third of total jobs, but accounted for about 10% of [the country’s] gross domestic product.”

By subsector, the highest net employment gains were seen in mining and quarrying (10.16%); financial and insurance activities (3.72%); accommodation and food service activities (3.47%); and wholesale and retail trade (1.76%).

Subsectors that posted net losses in employment were real estate activities (-0.59%); manufacturing (-0.47%); and electricity, gas, steam, and air conditioning supply (-0.35%).

In the same report, the PSA said there were 55,138 job vacancies in the National Capital Region, with the services sector accounting for around 83% of unfilled positions. Industry sector vacancies accounted for 17%, while agriculture job vacancies made up less than one percent. — Lourdes O. Pilar