Philippine unemployment up from 6.9% to 7.5%
Jovan Cerda (The Philippine Star) - June 11, 2013 - 12:41pm

MANILA, Philippines - The country's robust economic growth failed to offset figures in the jobless rate as unemployment rose to 7.5 percent in April from last year's 6.9 percent, results of the latest Labor Force Survey showed on Tuesday.

The National Statistics Office reported that Philippine employment dipped to 37.82 million in April 2013 from the 37.84 million in April 2012.

The Philippine economy grew by 6.8 percent in 2012, while first quarter gross domestic product for 2013 soared to 7.8 percent, the fastest in Asia.

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said the country's unemployment rate increased by 0.6 percent due to a lower level of employment amid a slightly higher labor force level.

Majority of the unemployed were high school graduates (31.7 percent), college graduates (21.3 percent) and college undergraduates (14.6 percent), the state agency noted.

About half (48.2 percent) of the unemployed were aged 15-24 years old, 27.5 percent of which are male while 20.7 percent are female.

"There is a need to improve the employability of worker applicants, particularly those with secondary and tertiary education. A more effective partnership among firms or establishments, academe and the government will provide useful inputs to the curriculum design," NEDA Deputy Director-General Emmanuel Esguerra said.

NEDA added that greater diversification of production and processing of agricultural by-products is also necessary as the seasonality of agricultural employment remains a challenge in the country's economy.

Employment in the agricultural sector posted a loss of 624,000 workers amid gains in the industry and services sectors which generated 224,000 and 380,000 jobs, respectively.

The Bureau of Agricultural Statistics reported that farmers were hesitant to plant due to the El Niño while others were still recovering from the damage wrought by typhoons Pablo and Quinta in the last quarter of 2012.

This, along with inadequate water supply and intense heat, is expected to result in lower agricultural output for April to June 2013.

For her part, NEDA Assistant Director-General Rosemarie Edillon said the country needs to attract more investments to create employment for the people, especially after Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor's upgraded the country's credit rating to investment grade level.

Edillon said the government will likely set the unemployment rate target to 6.5 percent this year.

"Actually back then, the goal was to bring down the unemployment rate to 6.8-7.2 percent. Now this may seem now a pretty non-ambitious goal, because in 2012 we already reached 7 percent. It is already within the target of the PDP (Philippine Development Plan). But going back in April 2010, unemployment was 8 percent, so at that time, the goal seemed ambitious. now that we have already reached 7 percent in 2012, we are revisiting those targets," she said.

ASSISTANT DIRECTOR-GENERAL ROSEMARIE EDILLON BUREAU OF AGRICULTURAL STATISTICS DEPUTY DIRECTOR-GENERAL EMMANUEL ESGUERRA EL NI FITCH RATINGS AND STANDARD LABOR FORCE SURVEY NATIONAL ECONOMIC AND DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY NATIONAL STATISTICS OFFICE PABLO AND QUINTA PHILIPPINE DEVELOPMENT PLAN
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