Why joblessness remains high despite stellar growth

By Kathleen A. Martin, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Nov 30 2012 11:41 AM | Updated as of Nov 30 2012 07:41 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The economy may have grown a surprising 7.1% in the third quarter but this did not translate to more jobs, a non-government organization claimed, even noting the country's unemployment rate was relatively higher than that of its Southeast Asian peers.

Socioeconomic planning chief Arsenio Balisacan cited two reasons for this situation: slow growth in the past years and the fast-growing population.

"If you look at our history, we haven't really grown so much... We have been a laggard for three decades... We're only starting to build capacity now," Balisacan told ANC's Headstart.

"Number two, our population has been growing much faster... The rate of growth of our labor force is so high so we really need to get the economy growing fast," he added.

In July, the country's jobless rate was steady at 7% from a year ago but the level was above Thailand's 0.9%, Vietnam's 2%, and Indonesia's 6.5%.

Balisacan said other Southeast Asian countries have grown their economies rapidly while slowing down population growth since the 1980s.

"The challenge really is employment creation. But again, it's not something you can produce overnight," he said.

"You need to build infrastructure. You need to get private sector confident in your economy so they will put up plants, equipment, etc.," he added.

"The challenge is really to get this growth sustained over a long period of time."

The surprising third quarter growth brought economic expansion at 6.5% in the nine months to September. The rate is already above government's full-year target of a 5%-6% gross domestic product growth in 2012.