GDP Expands, But Jobs Fewer

Details Published on Monday, 23 April 2012 00:00
Written by IRMA ISIP

The Philippines’ gross domestic product may be expanding but the economy is not generating enough jobs.

“It has been a jobless growth since 2008. The economy is up but employment remains the same because the new jobs are replaced or taken up by new graduates,” said Edgardo Lacson, president of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines.

That, Lacson said, makes for zero job growth, explaining that even the number of new graduates is coming down.

The reason could well be the inability of parents to send their children to college.

Lacson said the unemployment rate may be a low of 7.6 percent, but the reality is this could actually be higher if the underemployed are taken into account.

“Some sectors like the BPO (business process outsourcing) industry are hiring but those in manufacturing are simply holding on. There are no additions,” according to Lacson. “The exports sector is not expanding, as is the case in electronics,” he said.

“The economy cannot simply absorb the entrants to the labor force,” he added.

Lacson said what actually threatens the job market in manufacturing is the shift to automation. This is technological unemployment that happens all over the world. Men are replaced by machines which are more efficient, uncomplaining and produce better quality products than human hands make.

He said the BPO sector would reach its tipping point and this would mean fewer new graduates to be absorbed by the economy.

Roberto Amores, chairman of this year’s National Conference of Employers which starts tomorrow, said government spending may spur jobs but this would be temporary.

Data from ECOP show that except in 2007, when employment growth outpaced the increase in the labor force, the economy has not been creating the number of jobs to absorb people who want to work.

The increase in employment, for example, in 2011 was 1.112 million but the increase in the labor force was higher at 1.156 million. This may be the result of unchecked population growth, which increases at almost 2 per cent a year.

There are about 400,000 graduates every year.

The latest Labor Force Survey shows that the number of jobless Filipinos increased to 2.922 million in January from the 2.644 million unemployed recorded in October 2011, an increase of 278,000 in just three months.

The unemployment rate went up to 7.2 percent from the 6.4 percent recorded in October 2011. The rate was, however, lower than the 7.4 percent posted in January 2011.

President Aquino will be the special guest in the 33rd NCE conference. He is expected to make policy pronouncements on the conference’s topics of discussions: Setting New Thrusts and Directions towards a Competitive Labor Market, Nurturing Labor-Employer Partnerships, and Going Green, Young and Healthy.

ECOP believes that as the country crafts a practical roadmap towards achieving a notable improvement in the economy, many enterprises are trying to improve their performances and catch up with the ever-increasing competition and demand in both domestic and global markets.

It said these enterprises have seen what others have achieved: investing in strategies to improve workplace relations through cooperative means and enriching the complementation of labor and capital. These strategies can promote innovation, improve flexibility and facilitate change.



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