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Labor group sees increase in employment in 2017 but expresses concern on rising underemployment

By Associated Labor Unions
December 13, 2016

QUEZON CITY – Labor group Associated Labor Unions (ALU) attributes the high employment rate to the optimism created by President Duterte’s repeated promise to seriously address the worsening problems on peace and order situation, graft and corruption in government bureaucracy, drastic cutting on red tape specifically the setting up of business operations and on his promise to build unprecedented number of strategic infrastructures.

In a Labor Force Survey released by Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed unemployment reached its lowest level 4.7% in 11 years.

“We are also seeing Mr. Duterte’s aggressive pro-China diplomacy initiatives, peace talking with the communist movement actors, separatist entities and personalities in Mindanao and his leadership sincerity helped magnify the optimism for local and foreign investors to put up jobs-creating investments,” said Alan Tanjusay, ALU spokesperson.

Feeling secured and assured of their investments, he said these investors set up shops early to anticipate the fruits of reduced graft and corruption, capitalize on the ease of doing business, and increased mobility due to improve peace and order situation.

“Plus, they also anticipate and directly and indirectly participate to take part as Mr. Duterte is hell-bent to spend big money on building mega infrastructures. All these combined to create jobs which what we have now in anticipation of the bigger things to come,” Tanjusay said.

Tanjusay said if Mr. Duterte’s leadership momentum is not interrupted, construction allied services would emerge and help create jobs.

However, the underemployment scenario should be a cause of concern for government and employers, he said.

“It could mean that though there are jobs available but their wages and benefits are inadequate for them to cope with rising cost of living particularly the increasing prices of basic goods and costs of services,” he said.

Government and employers, therefore, should act simultaneously in addressing this underemployment rate. Employers should raise their wages and improve direct and indirect benefits to workers to help mitigate the rising rate of underemployment. Government should improve social protection benefits and insurance, enforce labor laws and safeguard predatory increase of prices of basic commodities.

“With all of these, we see an unprecedented increase in domestic employment in the year ahead. But if employers and government ignore underemployment solutions, economic growth will continue to be non-inclusive and inequitable with the very few upper class people racing to the top while the working people are racing to the bottom,” Tanjusay said.