MANILA — “The government’s claims of a modest decrease in unemployment this April cannot hide the fact that the employment climate under President Noynoy Aquino remains bleak.”
This was how labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno reacted to the recently-released National Statistics Office study showing a slight decrease in unemployment in the country.
The NSO reported that the unemployment rate dropped to 7.2% this April 2011 from 7.4% in the previous quarter and 8.0% in April 2010.
“Assuming that these data are correct and undoctored, the changes in the employment figures are still minor and showing fundamentally unchanged employment conditions,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson.
The labor center blamed the Aquino government’s insistence in adopting free market-centered policies, not developing the country’s industries and agriculture, and continuing merely to beg foreign investors to do business in the country, as the reasons why job prospects in the country remain bleak.
Beyond the minimal decrease in unemployment rate, the KMU highlighted the rise in underemployment rate from 17.8% last year to 19.4% this April, saying it showed an increase in people who want additional work.
“The almost 2% increase in underemployment rate shows the poor quality of available jobs in the country. With meager wages, no job security and close to zero rights, many workers really want to find other or additional jobs,” Labog said.
“Because the Aquino government continues to beg foreign investors to invest in the country, it has perpetuated the previous governments’ policy of pressing down wages, eliminating job security, and violating workers’ rights,” he added.
The labor leader also slammed the persistence of a worrisome trend in the employment situation in the country. The NSO study showed that 51.7% of the country’s workers are in the service sector, 33.0% are in agriculture, and 15.3% are in the industry sector.
“Even without looking at the quality of jobs in the agriculture and industry sectors, the fact that half of the total employed are in the service sector is not a good indication of the employment situation. It shows that the government has really failed to develop the country’s agriculture and industries,” Labog said.
“Only a pro-people development of the country’s industries and agriculture can provide decent employment to Filipinos in a sustainable way. Such a development, however, is farthest from the mind of the Aquino government,” he added.