First quarter economic growth this year offers no better jobs for Filipinos

By Baretang Bikolnon Staff

Despite Philippines’ first quarter economic growth this year, the growth has remained exclusionary which only led to the increase of over a million more underemployed and part-time workers under Duterte administration according to research group.

Socio-Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia recently announced the 6.8% Philippine economic growth for the first quarter of 2018 to be among the fastest in Asia, second only to Vietnam’s 7.4% and at par with China’s. According to Pernia, these indicate that infrastructure development is accelerating and “Build, Build, Build” is gaining ground. NEDA even said that OFWs could thus consequently come home to more jobs.

Latest official labor force data shows a higher number of employed under Pres. Duterte. The number of employed increased to 41.8 million in January 2018 from 39.3 million in the same period last year, with the employment rate at 94.7% and 93.4%, respectively. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate declined to 5.3% in January 2018 from 6.6% in January 2017.

Research group IBON noted however that despite the upturn in employment and lower unemployment, there are now more Filipinos who are underemployed or seeking for more work. The number of part-time workers, or those working less than 40 hours per week, also grew.

“First quarter economic growth this year did not translate to better jobs for Filipinos. This means that despite government claims that the groundwork for reforms has been laid, growth has remained essentially exclusionary, generating jobs that are insecure and low-paying,” IBON said.

The underemployment rate of 18% as of January 2018 saw a rise from the 16.3% underemployment rate the year before. This is the highest of all labor force survey rounds during Duterte’s term according to IBON.

The number of underemployed Filipinos grew by 1.1 million or from 6.4 million the year before to 7.5 million in January this year.

There was also an increase in the number of part-time workers, said the group. Part-time workers grew by 1.3 million (9.3%) to 14.7 million in January 2018 from 13.4 million the year before.

Another indication of the worsening jobs situation is that informal sector workers, or the number of own-account workers and unpaid family workers combined, rose by 1.4 million (9.2%) to 16 million in January 2018 from 14.6 million in January 2017.

“Poor quality work is growing because employers seek to peg wages at a low, minimize benefits and keep labor flexible to be able to increase their profits. The government takes the side of employers and supports them with its policies of wage rationalization and labor flexibilization, which it justifies as needed to attract investments and drive growth,” said the group.

IBON stated that the government should implement much-needed reforms that prioritize Filipino workers’ interests over big business profits.

“These include ending contractualization; mandating a Php750 across-the-board national minimum wage; and ensuring decent benefits and working conditions. Such reforms must go hand in hand with a strategic plan for national industrialization that is necessary in creating sustainable jobs for the Filipino people,” IBON said. (BaretangBikolnon.com/ Featured Photo from Hiveminer)

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