The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) reiterates its call for sustainable and dynamic job creation through our high growth amid surging inflation and the still-significant problem of poor job quality in light of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) December 2022 Labor Force Survey.
The PSA recorded that unemployment slightly increased to 4.3% in December, the second lowest since April 2005, from 4.2% in November. Underemployment, on the other hand, decreased to 12.6% in December from 14.4% in November.
“While we welcome that unemployment only slightly increased and that underemployment decreased, we nonetheless note that underemployment remains significant at double figures. Precarious work—contractuals, endo work, low-end gig work, temporary seasonal jobs during the holidays, and other job-sharing/rotation schemes—still persists. While they are formally categorized as ‘employed,’ they are trapped in the vicious cycle where they neither have decent wage nor job security,” stated TUCP Vice President Luis Corral.
“This predicament is worsened by the fact that January 2023 headline inflation further accelerated to 8.7% driven by food inflation at 11.2% wherein vegetable inflation is as high as 37.8%. They and their families are left to struggle everyday for their necessities in the face of skyrocketing prices of basic goods and services,” added TUCP Vice President Corral.
The TUCP asserts that our 7.6% gross domestic product (GDP) growth in 2022 to be fully meaningful must be inclusive. Such high growth to be genuinely felt by all must also trickle down more quickly. The continuing double-digit underemployment indicates that workers need more and better jobs as their income under their current employment remains insufficient. Instead of merely palliative jobs, what our economy should create are new decent jobs to ensure sustainable high growth.
The TUCP notes that the Labor Force Participation Rate (LFPR), defined as the proportion of total labor force to the total household population 15 years and over, decreased to 66.4% in December from 67.5% in November.
“Amid the still-significant underemployment, the decreasing LFPR means that compared to last month, 661 thousand Filipinos already gave up on their job hunting. For those who can afford, perhaps they went back to school with the hopes of a brighter future. But for those who have less, their disappointment with exploitative subsistence jobs pushes them to rely on their family and relatives as their social safety,” argued TUCP Vice President Corral.
As the largest labor center in the country representing workers across different sectors nationwide, the TUCP reiterates its proposed jobs agenda that should form part of our national employment creation strategy:
- SUSTAINABLE INDUSTRIAL POLICY. Formulate an industry promotion strategy anchored on identifying the priority sectors and matching them with available skills for each region, based on their respective comparative advantage. Pinpointing and upscaling these identified products and industries will generate new jobs, bolstered by fiscal incentives and tax breaks.
- PROVIDE FINANCIAL AND TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE TO MSMEs. Provide more grant facilities, capitalization support, low-interest lending programs, loan-forgiveness programs, and temporary tax deferrals for MSMEs. Such assistance should be premised on the MSMEs retaining their current employees and/or hiring more workers.
- REGIONAL AND PROVINCIAL AGRO-INDUSTRIAL HUBS INTERCONNECTED BY A NATIONAL RAILWAY SYSTEM. The TUCP has long proposed the establishment of regional and provincial agro-industrial hubs interconnected by a national railway system that will generate jobs, ensure food security, and democratize wealth creation.
“Through a national employment creation strategy, the TUCP is eager to collectively work with the Government and all our social partners as one nation to swiftly move from mere jobs restoration to new jobs generation. Together, let us create not ‘ENDO’ jobs, but decent jobs that will provide family living wages to today’s generation and the many more generations that will follow,” underscored TUCP Vice President Corral.