Philippines Unemployment drop bolsters economic optimism for 2012

THURSDAY, 01 MARCH 2012 21:16         

By: CAI U. ORDINARIO (http://businessmirror.com.ph)

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) is confident that the increase in the number of employed Filipinos will boost the optimism for the economy this year.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Cayetano W. Paderanga Jr. said data from the National Statistics Office showed that the government created more than a million jobs last year. The quality of jobs also improved as indicated in the Labor Force Survey (LFS).

"Last year the country generated more employment from the previous year. Employment level rose by 3.2 percent or 1.156 million, largely on the strength of the continued growth in services and the recovery in agriculture, although there was a slowdown in the industry sector," Paderanga said in a statement.

Paderanga also said the country has a better unemployment figure compared to the United States, which has an unemployment rate of 8.3 percent in January 2012. He explained that this is because the character of our economy is different from those of developed nations.

He added that the government's infrastructure investments this year, such as those that will be used for public-private partnerships, will also boost the economy and enable small and medium enterprises to attain "economies of scale" in their operations and therefore, hire more workers.

"Infrastructure investments will actually go a long way because when you connect the economy, then our own small businessmen will have a bigger market to look at and therefore we may start attaining economies of scale, although this means more competition among them but we think in the end it will be good for everybody that they become more productive," Paderanga explained.

Data showed out of the 61.9 million Filipinos aged 15 years old and over, about 40 million were in the labor force or economically active in 2011. This translates to an annual labor force participation rate (LFPR) of 64.6 percent, higher than the LFPR in 2010 which was at 64.1 percent.

The NEDA added that despite an increase in the LFPR, the quality of employment remained positive last year, with strong growth in wage and salary employment which posted a 4.6 percent growth; modest growth in full-time employment, 1.5 percent; and slight easing of the unemployment rate to 7 percent in 2011 from 7.3 percent in 2010.

However, Paderanga said that while the Philippines may have fewer unemployed persons, the country would compare unfavorably to developed economies in terms of underemployment, which increased from 18.8 percent in 2010 to 19.3 percent in 2011.

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