DoLE faces biggest challenge yet

Published February 8, 2021, 6:24 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

A Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) official explained just how daunting the country’s employment situation is, especially if government wants to keep the unemployment rate from reaching double digits again.

Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE)

Bureau of Local Employment (BLE) Director Dominique Rubia-Tutay bared in a virtual press briefing Monday, February 8 that as per the updated Philippine Development Plan, the target unemployment rate for this year up to next year is “between 7 and 9 percent.”

“But in terms of job generation, it would entail 2.4 to 2.8 million for this year and siguro (maybe) a little over 1.4 million by next year,” Tutay said.

“That’s a challenge. To me, it’s a very huge figure and never in 10 years of analyzing employment data…we have never generated 2.4 to 2.8 million employment, even during good times. So it’s a challenge. We need to generate that in order to achieve 7 to 9 percent unemployment rate under Philippine Development Plan,” she underscored.

Philippine unemployment rate hit a record high to 17.6 percent in April 2020, or during the height of the government-imposed lockdown in connection with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Although the figure was reduced to 8.7 percent by October 2020, it still represented some 3.8 million jobless Filipinos at a time when private businesses are basically on crutches.

This is where the various government agencies should step in. “Past experiences would tell us that community works, public works that are being financed by the government is a great contribution to employment generation,” she said.

“During the Asian Financial Crisis, ang buong gobyerno po nag-hire po ng mga manggagawa sa iba’t ibang proyekto ng pamahalaan (the whole of government resorted to hiring workers for the different projects in the bureaucracy),” she recalled. For example, she said the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority hired additional people for their clearing operations, while the Department of Environment and Natural Resources hired workers for their greening programs.

“‘Yun po ‘yung gusto nating makita kung pwedeng i-consider ng iba’t ibang ahensya ng pamahalaan (That’s what we want to see, maybe the different agencies can consider) how their respective agency budgets can really translate to employment generation as a contribution of the government,” Tutay said.