GOV’T JOBS DATA EXCLUDES 1.4 MILLION JOBLESS FILIPINOS

Independent think-tank IBON Foundation disputes government data on employment, estimating that government statistical manipulation removed over a million Filipinos from the official unemployment count.

Government data showed that in 2007, there was an annual average of 2.7 million unemployed Filipinos, a steep drop from figures recorded in recent years. IBON research head Sonny Africa cited the recent IBON study that estimates at least 4.06 million jobless Filipinos and an unemployment rate of 10.8 percent. This was 1.4 more than the official count of 2.7 million, which placed the average unemployment rate for 2007 at just 7.3 percent.

Average unemployment rate of 11.3% over the 2001-2007 period shows the economy is still suffering record joblessness despite government’s attempts to obscure the figures.

Government reports lower joblessness only because it revised the definition of unemployment to exclude discouraged job hunters from the labor force count, not because the economy created more jobs, Africa said. The effect of this new methodology in 2007 was to dramatically reduce the labor force participation rate (the percentage of population 15 years and above who are in the labor force) to 64% from the 66.5% under the NSO’s traditional unemployment definition.

IBON had requested the NSO for employment figures based on the old methodology, but said that it no longer computed such labor force data, unlike in past years when it presented data using both methods. “This makes comparison of current employment data with previous years impossible as it paints a false picture of an improving jobs situation,” Africa said. IBON made its own estimates to roughly compare employment figures using both methods.

Africa added that the 601,000 net additional jobs created in 2007 is just a 1.8% increase from the year before which is the slowest rate of job creation since the start of the Arroyo administration. The most jobs were created in domestic household help with 142,000 additional such jobs created.

In contrast only 72,000 agriculture jobs and 4,000 manufacturing jobs were added. Employment and unemployment trends in 2007 then confirm the deep problems of the Philippine economy despite much hype about rapid economic growth and a “strengthening” peso, Africa said.

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