Ranks of Poor Workers Rising in Philippines – While Dwindling in China, Vietnam

By: Darwin G. Amojelar, InterAksyon.com
October 26, 2012 4:58 PM

Tondo squatters’ area in Manila is home to the city’s working poor. Photo by Bernard Testa

MANILA – Poor workers in other Asian countries are escaping poverty with greater success than their counterparts in the Philippines, according to the National Statistical Coordination Board.

“It is really not enough that we provide jobs to Filipinos, but more importantly, these should be quality jobs to ensure that they have enough income to eventually move out of poverty. Ang hirap naman na nagtatrabaho ka na nga, tapos mahirap ka pa rin!” said Jose Ramon G. Albert, NSCB secretary general.

According to Albert, the proportion of employed Filipinos living on less than $1 per day stood at 27.2 percent in 2006, higher than the 18.7 percent in 2003. In 1991, the country’s working poor comprised 37.1 percent of the population.

The Philippines has more poor workers than Vietnam, where 20.4 percent were considered in the same situation in 2006, down from 22.7 percent in 2004 and 71.5 percent in 1995. China’s working poor comprised 73.1 percent of the population in 1992, then went down to 18.3 percent in 2005.

“In both these countries, the share of employed persons in agriculture, forestry, and hunting has been decreasing while the share of those in manufacturing has been increasing. In other words, the poor (from agriculture) managed to exit from poverty by getting better employment,” Albert said, referring to the situations in Vietnam and China.

The Philippine manufacturing sector has suffered a declining share of total employment, with the services sector taking up the slack, Albert said.

Where are the Filipino working poor employed? According to Albert, poor Filipinos were still working in agriculture, forestry and hunting as of 2006 and 2009.

“Our country’s poor, largely in the agriculture sector, need to improve their incomes, perhaps by getting non-farm incomes,” Albert said, adding that 59.3 percent of the working poor had finished only primary school at the most.

“However, we would still think that they could get absorbed into manufacturing which may give them better wages, or, get engaged in trade,” Albert said.

The NSCB chief said the Philippines’ unemployment rate of 7 percent in 2011 is the highest among neighboring countries: Thailand, 0.7 percent; Vietnam, 2 percent; Malaysia, 3.1 percent; China, 4.1 percent; and Indonesia, 6.6 percent.

“Further, there is a remarkable transition of employment structure among the six Asian countries above from agriculture sector to manufacturing and other sectors between 1994 and 2011,” Albert said.

He said poverty incidence in Vietnam went down to 16.9 percent in 2008 from 63.7 percent in 1993, while China’s slid to 13.1 percent in 2008 from 60.2 percent in 1990.

“Specifically, the poor are concerned about looking for jobs (if they don’t have jobs) or better paying ones (if they do). They want higher income, and certainly, they look forward to lower prices of commodities to improve their living conditions. The government recognizes this, and has thus decide to focus its development thrust for 2011-2016 on inclusive growth, characterized by sustained high growth, mass employment, and poverty reduction. This includes the promotion of full employment and decent work for all,” Albert said.

“However, this thrust of ‘development for all’ continues to be a big challenge. Despite socioeconomic gains and positive growth in the Philippines’ gross domestic product, the headcount poverty rate and other indicators of poverty have almost remained unchanged for almost a decade – poverty incidence among the Filipino population ranged between 24.9 to 26.5 percent during the 2006 to 2009 period,” he added.

The Philippine economic growth averaged 4.7 percent since 2000. In the first half of this year, the economy grew by 6.1 percent, at the high end of the government’s 5-6 percent full-year target.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Baliscan had said the “big challenge” for the Philippines is to address the quality issue because underemployment has remained “quite high.”

“The manufacturing sector really has to be revived because that’s where a lot of quality employment [can be created],” he said.

Source: http://www.interaksyon.com/business/46592/ranks-of-poor-workers-rising-in-philippines—while-dwindling-in-china-vietnam

2 responses to this post.

  1. I clarified that unemployment figures have structural issues… even if you have a lot of new jobs, but the labor force is growing, employment rates won’t change much (and thus unemployment rate will stay the same)… the manufacturing sector needs to be improved, and DTI is already coming up with a roadmap for manufacturing… (but we will need to also examine carefully the lack of population policy) http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=LP3UFhP4pRs


  2. Posted by crazycousin377 on November 5, 2012 at 10:09 am

    Are you PRO, or Anti RH Bill, Mr. Albert? I sort of sense some hesitation in terms of blaming most of the problem to the country’s fast population growth rate.


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