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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Efforts to help Filipino workers with crisis paying off

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said efforts to help the economy and the Filipino workers particularly the vulnerable ones cope with the global economic crisis paid off as indicated by an Asian Development Bank (ADB) paper which said that the global crisis had  little impact on economic growth and employment in the country.

Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque said the ADB paper has also emphasized that "the current crisis has had little impact on the unemployment rate in the Philippines."   The paper, he added, also noted that there was a significant increase in agricultural employment in the country in April of 2009. 

The ADB paper "How has Asia Fared in the Global Crisis? A Tale of Three Countries:  Republic of Korea, Philippines, and Thailand" described the impact of the global crisis with emphasis on the labor market in the covered three Asian nations.   It said that "in general, the global crisis had relatively little impact on economic growth and employment in the Philippines."  It also said that "unlike Thailand, the global crisis has no significant impact on employment by working status in the Philippines."

Roque said the government's pump priming measures focusing on investments in public infrastructure projects coupled with the implementation of the Comprehensive Livelihood and Emergency Employment Program (CLEEP) of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and job preservation efforts of the DOLE have tremendously buttressed the country's capability to cope with the adverse effects of the global crisis.

The ADB paper mentioned the comprehensive livelihood and emergency employment program (CLEEP), the government's flagship assistance program that provides emergency employment, funding, and livelihood assistance to affected workers.  It also recognized the DOLE's guidelines on flexible work arrangements aimed at avoiding layoffs in firms affected by the crisis. 

Other DOLE initiatives cited by the paper include the establishment of a registry of skills aimed at helping to identify and plan future responses, setting up of hotline that addresses concerns of displaced workers, and the provision of training, livelihood assistance, job placement referral services and reintegration programs for returning OFWs.

The ADB paper, however, estimated that 0.950 million jobs were lost between Oct. 2008 and March 2009.

On the contrary, the Labor Force Survey (LFS) of the National Statistics Office (NSO) showed that employment even achieved modest gains despite the crisis, which means that the global crisis did not significantly affect the employment situation in the country, Roque said.

 The LFS showed that the number of employed persons in the country increased by 861,000 from 33.672 million in Oct. 2007 to 34.533 million in Oct. 2008; by 565,000 from  33.693 million in January 2008 to 34.258 million in January 2009; and by 1.458 million  from 33.535 million in April 2008 to 34.993 million in April 2009. 

Due to the employment gains, the country's unemployment rate remained almost constant at around 7% level pegging at 6.8% in Oct. 2008, at 7.7% in Jan. 2009, and at 7.5 % in April 2009.   Based on year-on year change, the unemployed grew by 279,000 between Oct. 2007 and Oct. 2008 and by 180,000 between Jan. 2008 and Jan. 2009.

Employment even improved further as the number of employed persons rose by 1.458 million from 33,535 million in April 2008 to 35 million in April 2009 which resulted in the decrease of the unemployment rate from 8.0% to 7.5%.

The DOLE Chief said the LFS data on unemployment are nowhere near the 0.950 million job losses cited by the ADB report. He said the ADB estimate of 0.950 million job losses is not supported by the LFS data which is the official and most authoritative source of statistics on labor and employment in the Philippines.


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