Latest labor force data show that Pres. Duterte will leave behind a legacy of having the biggest increase in joblessness among all post-Marcos administrations, research group IBON said. The group said that this is not due to the pandemic but the government’s over-reliance on protracted and harsh lockdowns. Instead of hindering recovery, government needs to urgently provide much-needed cash assistance for millions of poor households and subsidies for small enterprises and producers grappling through the pandemic and economic crisis.
Comparing December 2021 jobs data to those at the start of the Duterte government, IBON noted that the number of unemployed significantly grew by 940,000 from 2.3 million in July 2016 to 3.3 million in December 2021. The group said that the unemployment crisis under Duterte is even more stark when looking at preliminary annual labor force figures and comparing these to previous governments.
IBON said that the unemployment increase under the Duterte administration from 2016-2021 grew by a huge 1.3 million from 2.4 million in 2016 to 3.7 million in 2021, the biggest among all post-Marcos regimes. The next biggest rise in unemployment was under the Arroyo administration from 2001-2010 (632,000), followed by Estrada from 1998-2001 (611,000) and Ramos from 1992-1998 (449,000). Under Corazon Aquino from 1986-1992 unemployment grew by 68,000 while under Benigno Aquino III from 2010-2016 it decreased by 261,000.
The group also said that the least jobs were created under the Duterte administration from 2017-2019 at a 313,338 annual average compared to the other post-Marcos administrations of Arroyo (858,250 jobs were generated), Benigno Aquino III (827,167), Corazon Aquino (810,042), Ramos (489,208); and Estrada (410,750).
IBON said that unemployment continues to inch up because economic activity is still repressed by the vicious cycle of low incomes, low consumer spending, struggling enterprises, and resulting joblessness. Relatedly, the real wage has fallen at the start of the Duterte administration and is at its lowest since 2014, which is no longer simply due to the long and stringent lockdowns, IBON observed. Pre-pandemic the government was already giving the least number of wage hikes and the smallest amount in the post-Marcos period.
To jumpstart real economic recovery, the government needs to understand that it is aggregate demand that most of all has to be boosted especially with substantial cash assistance to poor households and subsidies to production sectors and small businesses, said the group.