PH jobless rate among highest in Asia

By Ted P. Torres, The Philippine Star

Posted at Oct 27 2012 09:10 AM | Updated as of Oct 28 2012 05:17 AM

MANILA, Philippines - NSCB secretary general Jose Ramon G. Albert said despite socioeconomic gains and positive growth in the gross domestic product (GDP), poverty and unemployment in the Philippines remained unchanged.

“The headcount poverty rate and other indicators of poverty have almost remained unchanged for almost a decade – poverty incidence among the Filipino population ranged between 24.9 to 26.5 percent during the period,” he said.

Albert noted that most of the other countries moved from being heavily dependent on the agriculture sector to developing the manufacturing sector, which offered better jobs, higher wages and set a decisive impact on the country’s economy. Roughly six of 10 poor underemployed belong to the agriculture, forestry and hunting business in 2009.

However, the Philippines failed to follow suit.

Fresh data show that the Philippines had declining employment share in the manufacturing sector while increasing employment in other sectors and retaining a significant number in the agriculture sector.

Albert said among the classic examples are the cases of Vietnam and China, which have made large strides in poverty reduction.

Poverty incidence in Vietnam was 63.7 percent in 1993 and went down to 16.9 percent in 2008. In China, poverty incidence was 60.2 percent in 1990, which dropped to just 13.1 percent in 2008.

In terms of their working poor, Vietnam’s proportion of working poor went down from 71.5 percent in 1995 to 20.4 percent in 2006. China, on the other hand, registered a 73.1 percent proportion of working poor in 1992, which went down to 18.3 percent in 2005.

“In both these countries, the share of employed persons in agriculture, forestry, and hunting has been decreasing while the share of those in manufacturing has been increasing. In other words, the poor (from agriculture) managed to exit from poverty by getting better employment,” the NSCB head said.

Lack of opportunities for the farmers result in low educational levels in the agriculture sector, which in turn, account for the low employment rate. Nearly three out of every five (59.3 percent) of the working poor are elementary undergraduate or graduate.

The NSCB revealed that poor underemployed Filipinos are aged between 35 and 44 in 2006 and 2009. Most of the poor underemployed are married (72.2 percent in 2006 and 69.9 percent in 2009) and male (71.8 percent in 2006 and 70.4 percent in 2009).

Poverty among the underemployed consistently decreases as educational achievement increases.

Most of the poor underemployed are working as laborers and unskilled workers (50.1 percent in 2006 and 53 percent in 2009) and, farmers, forestry workers and fishermen (31.1 percent in 2006 and 27.7 percent in 2009).