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Positive gains for PH labor market

Even before President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. won the presidency, he has been emphasizing the need to create more jobs and livelihood opportunities in order to bounce back from the pandemic. His administration aimed for the full reopening of the economy to help accelerate job generation.

We are now seeing early gains. According to the latest Labor Force Survey of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), unemployment rate dropped to new record-low since the onset of the pandemic. As of September 2022, unemployment rate is at 5.0 percent, significantly lower than the 8.9 percent recorded in September 2021.

According to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), the significant de-escalation of community quarantine restrictions translates to an employment creation of 4.0 million year-on-year, bringing the total employment to 47.6 million in September 2022.

Employment growth was observed across all sectors with the services sector accounting for 2.8 million more employed individuals, followed by the industry sector with additional 682,000 employed persons, and the agriculture sector that registered an additional 461,000 employment.

President Marcos said this is a good sign that the economy is trying very hard to grow. He vowed to improve the quality of jobs to address underemployment while generating more job opportunities.

Underemployment rate rose to 15.4 percent in September 2022 from 14.2 percent in September 2021. NEDA Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said that this could be due to more individuals seeking to earn additional income because of the spike in commodity prices due to inflation.

To address this in the immediate term, the government is providing targeted cash transfer as well as fuel and crop subsidies to help protect the purchasing power of Filipinos and reduce the incidence of invisible underemployment among low-income households.

Secretary Balisacan also said thatthe Philippine Development Plan 2023-2028 is nearing its completion. The strategy is to have a more efficient labor market by improving the quality of education, providing opportunities for life-long learning, skills development and options to obtain micro-credentials, enhancing job facilitation programs, and strengthening linkages among industry, business, and training institutions.

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) is also doing its part to maximize the potentials of new and emerging technologiesin generating jobs and in creating opportunities in the countryside.

For instance, the scenario targets of the IT-BPM Industry Roadmap 2028 include generating US$59 billion in revenues and 1.1 million additional jobs. DICT secretary Ivan John Uy said, during the Philippine Software Industry Conference or SOFTCON PH 2022, that the DICT will help the industry grow to reach these targets by laying the groundwork for an environment that nurtures the ICT-enabled industries.

Investing in upskilling and reskilling initiatives to ensure a skilled workforce is also one of the agency’s priorities. With this, the DICT initiated the SET PH or the Stimulating the growth of Emerging Technologies in the Philippines program which explores the potential of Emerging Technologies and develops an enabling ecosystem that supports and sustains such industries, and the Tech Trends program that aims to provide Filipinos with relevant skills and technical know-how to benefit from the jobs and opportunities in the ICT industry.

With job generation as a top priority of government, along with the commitment to improving the quality of employment to address underemployment, the country could sustain this positive momentum in the Philippine labor market.

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