June 16, 2013
New reports made public have indicated that unemployment in the Philippines worsened to 7.5 percent in April, the highest in three years. This new jobless rate is worse than the 6.9 percent in the same month last year, and the 7.1 percent posted in January 2013,
According to the National Statistics Office, there were 3.09 million unemployed in the Philippines as of April, up from 2.89 million in January. The number of under-employed persons was estimated at 7.25 million or 19.2 percent, practically unchanged from April 2012.
The poor employment figures triggered a stock market decline Tuesday at the Philippine Stock Exchange amid the peso falling to 43-level vs. dollar on global sentiments on the possible tapering off of the policy stimulus in the United States. It capped the day at 43.20, P 0.42 weaker than its 42.78 finish on Monday. It last closed at the 43-level on June 8, 2012 at 43.27.
The new jobless rate figures are puzzling considering that the government has just posted a record 7.6 percent growth on gross domestic product (GDP), one of the highest in the region. And the government thus played down the report as critics of the Aquino administration said the worsening unemployment cast doubts on the government’s claims of economic growth. One of the critics, UP economics professor and former Budget secretary Benjamin Diokno, said a fast growing economy is supposed to create more, not less, jobs.
While President Benigno Aquino III and other government officials blamed the job losses on the agricultural sector, it is time for government to re-assess its programs so that, if indeed the country registered a phenomenal economic growth, its benefits would trickle down the people who are unemployed and under-employed and the needy masses.