The July 2018 round of the Labor Force Survey (LFS) reported strong job creation as the Philippine economy added an estimated 488,000 jobs, putting the total number of employed Filipinos at 40.7 million. This translates to an employment rate of 94.6%, which is tied for the highest recorded employment outturn in the last decade for the July rounds of the LFS. Conversely, the unemployment rate fell to 5.4% from the 5.6% recorded in July 2017. For reference, the unemployment rate ten years ago (July 2008) was at 7.4%.
“We are happy to report that Filipinos are finding more and better jobs, as reflected by the latest Labor Force Survey,” said Budget and Management Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno. “We understand that quality jobs for Filipino workers will enable them to provide for their families and invest in their children’s future, particularly in education and healthcare,” he continued.
Services continue to account for the largest share of the country’s total employment at 57.5%, followed by agriculture at 23.1%. Meanwhile, the industry sector reached its highest employment share in a decade at 19.4%. This reflects sustained job creation in the sector, particularly in manufacturing and construction, fueled by the Build Build Build program and direct investment inflows.
For the first seven months of the year, infrastructure and other capital outlays already reached P437.2 billion, rising by 47%, year-on-year. Higher spending for public infrastructure has translated to better employment prospects in the manufacturing and construction sectors, adding 142,000 and 31,000 jobs, respectively.
Nevertheless, underemployment remains to be a challenge as it inched up from 17.2% in July 2017 to 18.6% in July 2018. “We assure the public that the economic policies of the government remain apt to support the creation of quality jobs,” said the Budget Secretary. “The Build Build Build Program will open up economic opportunities for our workers and attract direct investments, fueling further job creation,” he remarked.
“We are investing on human capital development to educate and hone the skills of our people. An agile, equipped, and competent workforce will address skills-mismatch problems and secure high-paying jobs for our workers. We should also provide additional protection for our workers, while maintaining flexibility in the labor market, to create an environment conducive to job creation,” he added.
In fact, as much as 40% of the National Budget is allocated for human capital investments, especially in education, skills-training, healthcare, and social services. In the proposed 2019 budget, the Department of Education (DepEd) has allocated P390.8 billion for the Support to Schools and Learners Program, ensuring accessible and high-quality basic education for more than 22.1 million learners in public schools. Another P1.9 billion in the DepEd budget is allocated for the Education Human Resource Development Program to provide training to teachers and other school personnel.
For technical-vocational training, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) is allocated P14.8 billion in the proposed 2019 budget. Of this amount, P7.0 billion is allotted for the Free Technical and Vocational Education and Training, which will benefit more than 200,000 enrolees.