Working conditions improve despite rise in unemployment

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) reported yesterday that the number of jobless Filipinos increased to 2.9 million in July, apparently due to the lingering effects of the global financial crisis.

Labor Assistant Secretary Reydeluz Conferido, however, maintained that the working conditions for most Filipinos continue to improve despite the growth in unemployment.

Conferido said the latest National Statistics Office (NSO) survey showed that the number of unemployed persons nationwide went up by 200,000 to 2.9 million in July from 2.7 million during the same period last year.

He admitted that the country is still experiencing the lingering effects of the economic slump as shown by the slight growth in unemployment rate.

Conferido said the NSO survey showed that National Capital Region (NCR) and Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon (Calabarzon) recorded the highest unemployment rate in the country.

“Absolutely, the number of unemployed in July increased by 200,000 but we have to consider that the number of employable also went up sharply from last year which means we have a larger base of job seekers,” Conferido pointed out.

Conferido stressed that the increase in labor force participation rate (LFPR) in July was considered a positive development as the figure indicated that more Filipinos are hopeful that they would immediately find jobs.

“Increase in labor force participation rate is a clear indication that more Filipinos are feeling improvement in our economy that they are now opting to look for work,” Conferido said.

He noted that the number of underemployed or those looking for extra work went down from 21 percent last year to 19 percent or an improvement of 1.2 percent during the one-year span.

“Improvement in underemployment is a sign of recovery – longer working hours for our workers as well as better income for them. This means that our workers are now happier with their income,” Conferido said.

Conferido said the results of the NSO survey indicated that the government’s stimulus package, emergency employment, and other programs helped the country in addressing the ill effects of the financial crisis.

He said that the government, particularly the DOLE, is continuously exerting efforts to make the situation better for Filipino workers by improving the quality of available jobs in the country and overseas. –Mayen Jaymalin (The Philippine Star)