Labor groups described the results of the latest Labor Force Survey of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showing the easing of unemployment rate as “illusory.”
“Yes, unemployment rate fell between July and October 2020. But the 8.7 percent unemployment rate reported for the last quarter of 2020 is an illusion,” Nagkaisa Labor Coalition chairperson Atty. Sonny Matula said in a statement on Thursday.
“Employment remains low. Compared to the same quarter last year, the number of employed workers is lower by 2.7 million. The current employment level is also less than the number of employed workers in July by almost 1.5 million. That does not resemble recovery at all,” he added.
Except for self-employment and employers in family-owned business or farms, Matula said, the number of workers across classes remains lower than last year and even in July.
He added that wage and salary workers is short by 2.6 million compared to last year.
Matula said the economy remains weak, there is not enough demand in the market and firms have not recovered at all.
“If October and July labor indicators were any indication of the performance of the government’s current approach to the pandemic and the crisis, then it is as if economic managers were not working at all,” he said.
If there is anything the economic managers should learn from the survey, Matula said, it is this “the jobs crisis is real and it is staring at them in the face.”
Alan Tanjusay, spokesperson Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, called on the government to address the unemployment by generating jobs.
“Job generation has to come from the national and local government building infrastructure programs. The government must take the lead in providing more jobs through aggressive infrastructures spending which employs Filipinos,” he said.
Underemployment, Tanjusay said, must also be addressed by providing financial grant incentives and affordable loans to troubled businesses and financially distressed business-owners to help them cope through the pandemic health and economic crisis and adjust to the new normal.
He said the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Agriculture should also do their part in addressing exorbitant and unlawful increases in prices of basic food commodities by going after hoarders and profiteers nationwide and make prices of food affordable.
The Department of Labor and Employment, Tanjusay said, should help curb the rising underemployment by fully resuming the conduct of labor inspections nationwide to ensure that lawful wages, social protection benefits and quality, and provision of regular jobs are enforced.