December 12, 2017

The country’s decent work agenda is moving forward as reflected in underemployment recording its lowest rate in more than a decade, despite the decrease in total employment in October 2017, according to the National Economic and Development Authority.

In the October 2017 Labor Force Survey (LFS) of the Philippine Statistics Authority, a NEDA-attached agency, underemployment rate, or the proportion of employed wanting additional work hours, declined to or was recorded at 15.9 percent in October 2017.

This is lower by 2.1 percentage points from the 18.0 percent recorded in 2016.

The said rate represents approximately 893,000 less underemployed workers.

This is so despite the decrease in total employment to 41.6 million in October 2017, lower by 0.3 percentage points from a year ago, and employment rate also being down to 95 percent from 95.3 percent in 2016.

Also, the number of remunerative and stable wage and salaried workers increased by about 624,000, while vulnerable employment (proportion of self-employed and unpaid family workers to total employment) further decreased to 33.9 percent in October 2017, an improvement from 36.3 percent a year ago.

“The lower underemployment rate and the higher proportion of wage and salary workers indicate improvement in the quality of employment in the country,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said.

“Regular conduct of job fairs and provision of livelihood assistance have contributed to the improvement of underemployment especially in areas outside of the National Capital Region. This is a good indicator that our efforts in the lagging regions are starting to take effect,” the Cabinet official said.

Underemployment in Areas outside the NCR (AONCR) registered 17 percent, lower by 2.6 points from the 19.6 percent in 2016.

However, total employment decreased to 41.6 million in October 2017, lower by 0.3 points from a year ago. Employment rate also fell to 95 percent from 95.3 percent in 2016.

Agriculture, accounting for 25 percent of the country’s total employment, shed around 1.4 million employment (-12.1%). The said sector contributed to the setback in the overall employment rate in October 2017.

Pernia emphasized the need to closely monitor the agriculture sector to ensure that those engaged in agriculture are highly productive and resilient and are increasingly linked to the industry and services sectors.

“Agriculture sector is very vulnerable to risks including natural and man-made hazards. The government should strengthen early warning systems and social protection programs for the sector to ensure resiliency of agricultural communities,” he said.

He added that the sector requires sustainable productivity improvements by promoting value addition, product diversification, and accelerating local infrastructure provision like irrigation systems and farm-to-market roads.

On the other hand, industry and services, which accounted to 75.1 percent of the total employment, increased by 5.2 percent and 4 percent, respectively.

NEDA also emphasized the need to pursue policies to increase labor force participation of women, including: (a) the full implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH) Law; (b) improved access and affordability of child care services; (c) policies that promote work-life balance, including a regulatory framework to allow part-time work and work-from-home even in the formal sector; (d) the provision of re-training services for women returning to the workforce; (e) enhancing maternal and paternal benefits; and (f) improved access of women to entrepreneurial opportunities.

The LFS is a nationwide quarterly survey of households to gather data on the demographic and socio-economic characteristics of the population and provide statistics on levels and trends of employment, unemployment, and underemployment in the country.