Region VI, 4 others high in unemployment rates

By George M. De La Cruz/ PNS

Employment rates in the Philippines grew by 4 percent year-on-year as the country’s labor market regains momentum in April 2011, but not in the case of region VI.

The region together with four other regions marked high with unemployment rates compared with the national rate, a report from the June 2011 bulletin of the Bureau of Labor Employment Statistics which highlights the labor force of the country as of April 2011.

The five regions that posted unemployment rates higher than the national rate: NCR (11.6%), Region I (9.8%), Region III (8.3%), Region IV-A (10.0%) and Region VI (7.6%).

However, on a national picture, expansion was driven by the marked recovery in agriculture, fishery and forestry sector (5.6%) and the continued expansion, though at slower pace, in industry sector (2.4%) and services sector (3.4%), the bulletin showed.

The quality of employment was mixed with gains in wage and salary employment (5.0%) and full-time employment (3.5%) partly offset by the rise in underemployment rate by 1.6 percentage points and the slight decline in mean hours worked by 0.3, it added.

BLES said that more persons joined the labor market in April 2011 compared with the same period last year. Estimated at 39.691 million, the labor force expanded by 3.1% during the period under review, which means an addition of more than a million (+1.179 million) new entrants/reentrants to the labor force – about twice the figure (+688,000) recorded in 2010. BLES added the labor force participation rate (LFPR) rose from 63.6% to 64.2% during the period.

With the growth in employment (4.0% or +1.408 million) surpassing the expansion in labor force (3.1% or +1.179 million), the number of unemployed persons dropped by 228,000 to 2.871 million in April 2011. This translates to a 0.8 percentage point reduction in unemployment rate, i.e., from 8.0% to 7.2% over the period, BLES said.

Further, half (50.0% or 1.435 million) of the total unemployed workforce were young workers (aged 15 to24 years old). Youth unemployment rate at 16.6% was more than twice the national average. This rate was 2.2 percentage points lower than last year. About two in every three unemployed were men (63.9% or 1.836 million). Compared with last year, unemployment rate of men was down by 0.6 percentage point to 7.6%. Also, the rate for women was down by 1.1% percentage points to 6.7%. The majority (44.2% or 1.270 million) were high school graduates or undergraduates. Equally large were college undergraduates and graduates (43.5% or 1.249 million).

Meanwhile, on the downside, underemployment rate was up from 17.8% to 19.4%. This translates to 7.126 million underemployed persons, an increase of 829,000 from a year ago level, BLES said.