TUCP urges gov't to further analyze unemployment data

The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) has urged the government to analyze further the unemployment data released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), saying “the quality of employment is extremely problematic.”

Following the PSA study that showed that the unemployment levels eased from an all-time high of 17.7 percent in April 2020 to 10 percent in July 2020, TUCP President Rep. Raymond Mendoza said that upon a closer look, the employment data "reveals that the quality of employment is extremely problematic aside from the fact that 4.6 million workers unemployed is high and worrisome.”

“Of the 90 percent of our workforce that the PSA study indicates as employed, fully 8.5 million are unemployed or underemployed. In effect among the 90 percent employed are workers in desperate situations on ‘no work, no pay’ schemes, forced leave, job rotation, or are temporarily laid off for the next three to six months,” Mendoza explained.

PSA figures indicate that the unemployment level has gone down to 10 percent, equivalent to 4.6 million jobless Filipinos, from the high of 17.7 percent reported in April. Prior to the pandemic, unemployment was at a low 5.3 percent.

The PSA’s 90 percent employment rate included 4.1 million employed workers not on the job and 7.1 million underemployed.

Mendoza stressed that the 10 percent unemployment rate is by itself “extremely worrisome” considering that the unemployment rate was only 5.3 percent before the coronavirus pandemic.

“But that is further aggravated when we dig deeper into the PSA data because we shouldn't just be looking at the problem from the technical definition of employment from PSA's perspective, but focusing more so on the actual quality of employment -- and the quality of life that provides -- for all workers that government classifies as ‘employed’,” said Mendoza.

"Congress and the Executive branch need to carefully analyze the data, as there is a very real danger of misreading the real problem if the focus is on the ‘so called easing of unemployment’,” he added.

The TUCP also said that the PSA data is "too tempered" as the labor center’s affiliates report massive retrenchment, early retirement, and forced resignation schemes nationwide.

“The hyped up positive development may not be the reality on the ground as those who are considered employed are actually on suspended employment, or floating status, or are paid less than the minimum wage pending the reopening of markets or placement of orders by the buyers. This is a serious concern and we should not be misled by the unemployment percentages being presented by the PSA,” Mendoza said.

The lawmaker argued that the data “is not reflective of the true state of labor and employment” and highlighting the easing of unemployment alone “diverts our attention from the reality that majority of our workers are on temporary lay-off for three to six months, on forced leave, on job rotation, or on job-sharing schemes.”