Youth hit hardest by stagnant job creation — IBON

June 7, 2024

by IBON Foundation

Recent labor force data shows that the economy is still struggling to create enough decent work – and the youth are most affected, said research group IBON.

Year-on-year April 2024 employment was reported at 48.4 million, increasing only by 297,000 from 48.1 million in April 2023. IBON noted however that this is considerably below the implied average target of 500,000 jobs annually based on the Labor and Employment Plan (LEP) 2023-2028.

Meanwhile, the reported number of unemployed declined by 215,000 to 2 million from the 2.3 million in the same period last year. However, these official figures fail to report the true extent of job scarcity. Preliminary estimates by IBON indicate that there could be at least 7 million Filipinos who are practically jobless, which includes an estimated 1.9 million discouraged workers and 3.1 million unpaid family workers.  

The group said that the 833,000 increase in the number of underemployed to 7 million from 6.2 million shows that sufficient work is still hard to find for many Filipinos. Looked at together with the IBON estimate of nearly 20 million openly informal workers which make up 41.1% of total employed, this shows that low-quality work is prevalent, and Filipinos are just getting by on whatever work they can find.

The youth are taking the brunt of the poor jobs situation, which puts a damper on the hyped demographic dividend, said IBON. The number of employed youth or those aged 15-24 years old fell substantially by 417,000 from 6.3 million to 5.9 million. The number of underemployed youth also increased by 143,000 from 669,000 to 811,000. As it is, the youth unemployment rate of 10.5% is more than double the 4.1% overall unemployment rate.

Overall, the youth ‘not in employment, education or training’ (NEET) increased during the same period by 160,000 from 2.1 million to 2.2 million. IBON said that this shows that there are not enough job opportunities for the potential working force among the youth.

The group said that youth employment is key in achieving the demographic dividend, or when the increasing share of productive working-age population with higher incomes results in faster economic growth. But this will not be possible if the job prospects for the youth sector do not improve.

IBON said that the Marcos administration needs to seriously prioritize the boosting of domestic agriculture and Filipino industries. Its reliance on foreign investments and big infrastructure will not necessarily generate substantial and sustainable work, which previous administrations have also touted yet failed to really achieve, said the group.