Aquino Administration prepare measures to protect Filipino workers amidst Tension, Natural Disasters

Unemployment RatesImage by GDS Infographics via Flickr
A March 16, 2011 press release by the National Economic and Development Authority
Given the results of January 2011 labor force survey, the tensions in the Middle East and North Africa, and the natural disasters in Japan, the country’s socioeconomic planning secretary said that the government will exhaust all measures to ensure protection of the welfare of Filipino workers.
“There is a need for the government to plan and prepare for the possible macroeconomic and social impacts of what is happening locally and overseas, especially on the labor sector,” said Secretary Cayetano W. Paderanga, Jr.
The latest results of the labor force survey (LFS) showed that total employment was recorded at 36.3 million in January 2011, with a net employment generation of about 292,000 workers from January 2010.
However, employed Filipinos only represent 92.6% of the total labor force in January 2011, slightly lower than the 92.7% figure in January 2010. The labor force includes Filipinos 15 years old and over who are either actively employed or finding jobs.
The LFS also showed that fewer employed Filipinos desire longer working hours or an additional job to augment their income, as the underemployment rate improved to 19.4% in January 2011 from 19.7% in January 2010. Underemployment rate represents the percentage of underemployed persons to the total number of employed persons.
Paderanga, who also heads the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), said that the government will also speed up public infrastructure development and intensify measures that improve governance, strengthen institutions, and reduce the cost of doing business.
“We will also further intensify current programs that address the labor mismatch problems, in order to improve the quality of employment, and provide more decent employment opportunities. Through these, we will achieve a respectable high growth this year, together with its positive consequences on the labor sector,” Paderanga said.
Paderanga noted that employment in the agriculture sector rebounded from a decline in January 2010, with a growth of 1.3% in January 2011, employing additional 152,000 workers.
“The agriculture, hunting and forestry sub-sector generated an additional 185,000 employment, thus compensating the losses in the fishery sub-sector. This reflects the latest report of the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics on the expected expansion in harvest areas of palay by 9.3% and corn by 7.2% for the first quarter of 2011, with production expected to surpass the same period of 2010 levels by 18.6% and 28%, respectively,” Paderanga said.
The services sector still comprised more than half (52.5%) of the total employed population, employing additional 198,000 workers in January 2011 compared to the previous year. Meanwhile, employment in the industry sector contracted by 1.1%, due to net employment losses in manufacturing (-56,000), electricity, gas, and water (-26,000) and mining and quarrying (-9,000) subsectors despite gains in the construction subsector (33,000).
The number of unpaid family workers increased by 7.0% while “self-employed without any paid employee” went up by 4.4%.
“The rise in the number of unpaid family workers is largely accounted for by agriculture, hunting and forestry (65.1%) and wholesale and retail trade, repair of motor vehicles, motorcycles, and personal and household goods (22.5%) sub-sectors, since workers in farming and selling are usually family members,” Paderanga said.
The number of wage and salary workers also declined by 1.2%, which Paderanga partly attributed to base effect, from an exceptionally 12.1% strong growth last year.
The LFS also showed that unemployment rate remains relatively high in industrialized regions such as National Capital Region or Metro Manila (12%), Region 4-A or CALABARZON (9.5%), and Region 7 or Central Visayas (8.3%), as well as in agricultural areas like Region 1 or Ilocos Region (10%), Region 3 or Central Luzon (7.9%) and Region 13 or Caraga (7.6%).