By Ben O de Vera
MANILA - The unemployment rate in April declined from a year ago as the election campaign season created jobs, but the government Thursday expressed concern over high unemployment among the young population as well as an increase in the number of underemp
The Philippine Statistics Authority’s (PSA) April 2016 Labour Force Survey (LFS) showed that the unemployment rate went down to 6.1 per cent from 6.4 per cent in April last year, although higher than the 5.8 per cent posted last January.
Despite a growing population as well as more and more individuals entering the labour force, the number of employed Filipinos rose to 39.9 million last April from 39.2 million a quarter ago, while the unemployed numbered 2.6 million.
In a statement, the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) said the employment rate of 93.9 per cent was “at the high-end range of previous April rounds of the LFS since 2011.”
“The high proportion of working persons to the total labour force indicates an upbeat labour market,” Neda said.
The unemployment rate was also below the full-year target of 6.6 per cent, Neda noted.
Neda attributed the higher number of employed Filipinos in April partly to election-related activities that generated temporary jobs, although majority of employment in the country involved permanent positions.
“Of the employed, more than three-quarters are permanently employed and just over a fifth are short-term or seasonal workers. Other indicators of quality employment, such as wage and salaried employment (24.8 million or 62.1 per cent of total employed), full-time employment, and mean hours of work have shown an increasing trend, supportive of an optimistic outlook on employment,” Neda said.
“These employment numbers are a reflection of the country’s vibrant economy,” Economic Planning Secretary Emmanuel F. Esguerra said.
“If the labour market trends are maintained, the Philippine Development Plan target of 6.5-6.7 per cent for unemployment rate in 2016 is likely to be achieved,” added Esguerra, who is also the Director-General of Neda.
However, Esguerra said he was alarmed over “economic inactivity of the youth.”
Unemployment among the youth, defined by the PSA as aged 15 to 24, hit 14.6 per cent last April, more than double the national unemployment rate.
“Moreover, some 23.8 per cent of the total young working population were neither in school nor in the labour force, implying that 4.7 million young Filipinos are underutilised as their skills are not being honed by education, training or employment,” Esguerra added.
The underemployment rate also remained high, at 18.4 per cent in April, up from 17.8 per cent a year ago as well as higher than the target for this year of 17 per cent.