By Genalyn Kabiling and Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz
The government vowed to generate more jobs for Filipinos after a survey showed a decline in the country’s joblessness rate in March.
A survey conducted by the Social Weather Station in the First Quarter of 2019 showed that the rate of unemployment declined for the second consecutive quarter to 19.7 percent.
The 19.7 percent (9.4 adults) in March 2019 is 1.4 points below the 21.1 percent (estimated 9 million adults) in December 2018, and 2.3 points below the 22 percent (estimated 9.8 million adults) in September 2018.
SWS defined adult joblessness as those seeking jobs for the first time, those who voluntarily left their old jobs, or those retrenched or lost their jobs due to economic circumstances beyond their control.
The 19.7 percent who were jobless in March 2019 consisted of 9.4 percent (4.5 million adults) who voluntarily left their jobs, 7.6 percent (3.6 million adults) retrenched, and 2.7 percent (1.3 million adults) first-time job seekers.
In Metro Manila, there was a six-point decrease in adult joblessness, from 27 percent (1.7 million adults) in December 2018 to 21 percent in March 2019.
This is the first in five quarters where there has been a decrease in adult joblessness in the capital.
It remained unchanged for three quarters at 19 percent from December 2017 to June 2018, increased to 26 percent in September 2018 and then to 28 percent in December 2018, before decreasing to 21 percent in March 2019.
In Mindanao, adult joblessness decreased by nine points, from 26 percent (2.7 million adults) in December to 17 percent in March.
This comes after a six-point increase from 20 percent in September 2018 to 26 percent in December 2018.
More jobless women
In the rest of Luzon, adult joblessness increased by two points, from 19 percent (3.4 million adults) in December to 21 percent in March. A four-point decrease was registered from 23 percent in September 2018 to 19 percent in December 2018.
In Visayas, adult joblessness increased by two points from 16 percent (1.2 million adults) to 18 percent. This comes after a four-point decrease from 20 percent in September 2018 to 16 percent in December 2018.
Adult joblessness has been consistently higher among women than among men.
In March 2019, it was 30 percent (6 million adults) among women and 12 percent (3.4 million) among men.
Likewise, adult joblessness has been consistently highest among 18 to 24-year-olds compared to other age groups.
The March 2019 survey also found that adult joblessness is slightly higher in urban areas at 21 percent (4.1 million adults), than in rural areas at 19 percent (5.2 million adults).
Growing labor force
To help Filipinos land employment, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the administration would continue to attract job-generating foreign investments and promote good governance.
President Duterte, he said considers labor as “one of the engines” that will propel further the country’s growth and development.
“The Palace welcomes the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showing a continuous drop in adult joblessness at 19.7% in March 2019, from 21.1% in December 2018 and 22% in September 2018. The same polling firm indicates that the labor force grew to an estimated 47.6 million Filipinos,” Panelo said in a statement.
“We remain committed to creating jobs by attracting more foreign investments and promoting good governance as we look forward to welcoming more Filipinos in the workforce,” he said.
To help first-time jobseekers, Panelo said the President signed Republic Act No. 11261 exempting them from paying fees and charges for government documents needed in a job application.
The law — First Time Jobseekers Assistance Act, “aims to expand the accessibility of first-time jobseekers to government services and ultimately, to employment,” according to Panelo.