Number of Pinoys abroad, unemployed, underemployed all increasing

GOVERNMENT feels relieved that amid the current tide of job displacements as a result of the ongoing global economic crisis, the recent round of the quarterly Labor Force Survey revealed a lower unemployment rate.

Yet the Philippines, a country with a ballooning labor force, still has a visible number of unemployed and underemployed in spite of rising overseas migration by Filipinos.

One wonders if overseas migration, regarded many times as a stop-gap measure to rising homeland unemployment, had mitigated the inability of the country to generate more jobs and decrease unemployment, a nonprofit group’s policy brief wrote.

“While the country, in 2008, had the lowest unemployment rate (6.8 percent) in the last 12 years, there are still a visible number of jobless Filipinos,” the Institute for Migration and Development Issues (IMDI) wrote.

And even if the rate of underemployment (a condition where people work less than eight hours a day, or where people are self-employed) is reducing lately, the actual number of underemployed is growing, the Institute’s policy brief on overseas migration and domestic employment conditions wrote (the policy brief can be downloaded at

From 1997 to 2008, the country’s employed labor force grew from 27.888 million to 34.533 million. The number of unemployed Filipinos, meanwhile, has been going up and down during the 12-year period even as there are about six million underemployed Filipinos as of 2008.

Over the same 12-year period, the combined total of temporary migrants (or overseas workers) and permanent migrants (those staying for good in another country) has risen —from 801,755 in 1997 to 1,447,6233 in 2008.

The 1997 combined total of 801,755 Filipinos who went overseas makes up 33.73 percent of that year’s total homeland unemployed (2.377 million). The 2008 combined total of 1,447,623, for its part, is now 57.33 percent of the 2008 total homeland unemployed.

The number of overseas Filipinos and the country’s unemployed and underemployed are all increasing, writes the institute’s policy brief (written by Dawn Naisa Majaducon). The situation reflects the reality in the Philippine labor market that the country cannot generate as many jobs for the growing number of workers here at home, the nonprofit added.

But the institute cautions government if it relies on sending more people abroad as the easy-way out of facilitating job opportunities for citizens.

“While overseas migration will be a reaction for Filipinos to get out of employment-related problems here at home, relying too much on overseas migration will ultimately challenge stakeholders’ efforts to improve domestic employment conditions,” IMDI wrote.

Apart from significant reductions in unemployment and underemployment, homeland employment-related conditions to watch out beside continued overseas migration include wages, labor productivity, supply of skilled labor at home, and poverty and inequality as contributory to the deterioration of the quality of jobs here in the country.

–Institute for Migration and Development Issues

IMDI’s policy brief on overseas migration and domestic employment conditions can be downloaded in this link: