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10% in Philippines out of work, underemployed: Govt

Posted on: March 18, 2009


AFP – Wednesday, March 18

MANILA (AFP) – – Joblessness in the Philippines has risen to 7.7 percent with more than nine million people — about one in 10 — out of work or underemployed, the government said Tuesday, blaming the global downturn.

The unemployment rate rose from 7.4 percent a year earlier, with another 180,000 people without jobs pushing the total to 2.855 million, the National Statistics Office said.

The central bank earlier quoted government figures as saying the number of people leaving to seek work overseas had rocketed by more than 25 percent in January as a dive in exports hits jobs.

“The employment generated was not enough to compensate for the bigger number of labor entrants for the period and those who have been unemployed,” Economic Planning Secretary Ralph Recto said in a statement.

Labour department officials have said at least 39,000 Filipinos lost their jobs since October last year as factories and companies laid off workers.

Manila and the surrounding provinces, which together account for more than half the country’s economic output, reported a jobless rate of 14.0 percent.

Of those who were employed, 36.3 percent or 6.238 million only had part-time work of less than 40 hours a week.

Recto said the 1.414 trillion peso (29.2 billion-dollar) 2009 national budget, which included higher spending on infrastructure and cash handouts to the poor, should “help minimise the adverse impact of the crisis to the most vulnerable sectors of the labour force.”

The economy grew by 4.6 percent for the whole of 2008, slowing from 7.2 percent for 2007. The government has recently cut its 2009 growth forecast to 4.4 percent.

Overseas jobs, a key outlet for the Philippines labour force, meanwhile showed significant signs of slowing in January, when remittances grew by just 0.1 percent from a year earlier despite the steep rise in people leaving to work abroad.

Central bank governor Amando Tetangco said the slight increase to 1.3 billion dollars came in a “challenging external environment.”

Remittances from seamen were up but money sent back by land-based workers, particularly from the United States, had fallen “due to the global economic downturn,” Tetangco said in a statement.

Government figures showed 165,737 workers left the Philippines in January, a 25.3-percent increase year on year, the bank said.

The Philippines, whose main export industry is electronics and components, has been hard hit by the global slowdown with overall shipments down 41 percent in January.

The Philippines is one of the world’s leading sources for skilled and unskilled workers with up to nine million people living and working in 140 countries.

The money has become a pillar of the domestic economy, making up about 10 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. Total remittances in 2008 rose to 16.429 billion dollars, up 13.7 percent from 2007.

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