Weak and below-target job creation debunks govt’s employment hype, hits youth worst — IBON

May 1, 2024

by IBON Foundation

No amount of job fairs can hide that job creation for Filipino workers has been lagging, breaking government’s façade of an improving labor market, said research group IBON. 

The group said that employment generation so far this year is far below government’s annual target and even annual average net job creation in the past decade. 

Under its Labor and Employment Plan (LEP) 2023-2028, the government targeted to generate “over 3 million jobs” for Filipinos which translates to an average of over 500,000 annually. The latest official labor force data however reports only a 154,000 increase in employed persons from 48.8 million in February 2023 to 49 million in February 2024 which is not even one-third (31%) of the implied annual target. It is also just one-seventh (15%) the annual average net job creation of 1.1 million over the past decade 2014-2023.

IBON also said that officially reported unemployment of 1.8million and an unemployment rate of 3.5% in February 2024 understates the real extent of joblessness. Preliminary estimates of IBON places the true number of unemployed at 7.5 million with an unemployment rate over 13% instead. This estimate includes in the unemployment figures an initially estimated 1.9 million jobless Filipinos removed from the labor force and the 3.8 million unpaid family workers who should not really be counted among those employed.

The weak job creation hits youth the worst and the so-called demographic dividend is becoming a demographic debacle. The number of employed youth or those aged 15-24 years old contracted by over half a million (573,000) from 6.8 million in February 2023 to 6.2 million in February 2024. As it is, the official youth unemployment rate of 8.6% is two-and-a-half times the reported 3.5% overall unemployment. These official estimates would be even higher had 669,000 youth not dropped out of the labor force in the past year.

This is concerning since youth employment is key in achieving the hyped demographic dividend, or when the increasing share of productive working-age population with higher incomes results in faster economic growth. 

Acknowledging the weak state of job creation is necessary to come up with meaningful solutions that will address the country’s livelihood crisis. By putting aside the illusion of a robust labor market, the government can then focus on effective measures that will boost the economy and job creation. These can include an immediate and substantial across-the-board wage hike as well as support for small businesses and producers, and long term and significant investment of resources towards strengthening domestic agriculture and Filipino industries.