Persisting jobs crisis belies gov’t claims of growth momentum

July 8, 2022

by IBON Foundation

Research group IBON said that the increase in unemployment and informal work in May 2022 shows that the jobs crisis persists despite the government’s opening up of the economy and hype of economic growth. The group said that to address this, the new administration needs to invest substantial funds into genuine economic stimulus to arrest the jobs crisis.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported that the number of employed grew by 452,000 to 46.1 million in May 2022 from 45.6 million in April 2022. However, IBON said that the higher numbers of unemployed, underemployed and those in informal work means the jobs crisis is far from over, contradicting the government’s claim of economic growth momentum.

The number of unemployed grew by 165,000 to 2.9 million in May 2022 from 2.8 million the month prior.  The group further noted that when comparing May 2022 jobs data to those before the pandemic, the number of unemployed is higher by over half a million (536,000) than the 2.4 million in January 2020.

Meanwhile, the number of underemployed grew by 269,000 to 6.67 million in May 2022 from 6.4 million in April 2022. This is also slightly higher than the 6.65 million monthly average of underemployed for the first four months of 2022.

IBON also said that a closer look at recent employment figures also reveals that informality is still widespread. While Filipinos may have jobs, there are many who are making do with work that is unsecure, irregular and not decent.

By class of worker, the drop in the number of wage and salary workers is concerning since this likely means the loss of jobs that are less informal, said the group. This fell by 469,000 from 28.7 million in April 2022 to 28.2 million in May 2022. Declines were mostly among those that worked in government or government corporations (by 281,000) and private establishments (by 179,000).

Another indication of worsening informality among employed persons is the growing number of self-employed and unpaid family workers. IBON noted that the number of self-employed without any paid employee rose by 569,000 from 12.6 million to 13.2 million. Unpaid family workers increased by 542,000 from 3.2 million to 3.8 million.

More Filipinos are also ending up in part-time jobs, said the group. By hours worked, the number of those that worked less than 40 hours increased by 439,000 from 16.3 million in April 2022 to 16.7 million in May 2022. Since February, the number of part-time workers has been increasing by a monthly average of 922,000.

Meanwhile, full-time workers or those that worked 40 hours and over decreased by 6,000 while those “with a job, not at work” increased by 18,000.

IBON also noted that while not as affected by the government’s harsh lockdowns like other sectors, agriculture and fisheries has been shedding jobs. There were 629,000 jobs lost in the sector from April to May 2022, and prior to that 1.1 million jobs were lost from March to April 2022. A monthly average of 342,000 agriculture jobs have been lost since January 2022.

The country’s economic instability will only worsen the jobs crisis. Government not taking action and providing real economic stimulus through cash assistance to poor households, wage subsidies and support to small businesses and producers amplifies the effects of a weakening economy.

IBON also said that the new administration’s plan to just increase “employability” mainly through education and skills development is not enough. Boldly reforming the economy starting with boosting the country’s own production sectors and not big profit-driven businesses will deliver steady jobs, decent incomes and higher productivity, said the group.