Research group IBON said that recently-released employment figures show that the jobs crisis is worsening under the Duterte administration’s neoliberal agenda, despite reported fast economic growth. The group said, there were jobs lost and an increase in the number of unemployed, primarily due to the over one million job losses in agriculture. These latest figures indicate that the government market-driven economic policies are failing to bring about the genuine long-term development of the domestic economy that could create sustainable livelihoods.
The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported 5% unemployment, 95% employment and 15.9% underemployment rates in October 2017. IBON said however that there were 134,000 jobs lost and 148,000 more unemployed this year compared to the same period last year, although the number of underemployed declined by 893,000. The employment rate could also be distorted considering government labor force definitions discount some 2-3 million workers not in the labor force.
The agriculture sector suffered 1.4 million in job losses which primarily contributed to the rise in the number of unemployed in October 2017. IBON noted that in the same period in the past five years, agriculture jobs have been declining, except for a slight uptick in 2016. Those employed in the sector decreased from 12.1 million in 2013, to 11.8 million in 2015; to 10.4 million this year.
The recent agriculture job losses were offset by increases in employed persons in the services and industry sector by 944,000 and 381,000, respectively. Under services, job increases primarily occurred in public administration and defense, compulsory social security (299,000), followed by transport and storage (215,000), and wholesale and retail trade (191,000). Manufacturing (239,000) and construction (136,000) accounted for the bulk of additional employed in the industry sector.
IBON said that these job losses and higher number of unemployed indicates that the country’s fast economic growth remains exclusionary. It also underscores the unsoundness of the neoliberal economic policies forwarded by the Duterte administration, which primarily serve big local and foreign business interests.
The significant decline in agricultural work is an example of the government’s neoliberal policies failure, as the sector remains backward and vulnerable to weather conditions and disasters, said the group. Government neglect and lack of support for domestic production, and its prioritization of pro-big business interests, such as corporate plantations, ecotourism complexes, mining, and large dams, among others, have affected rural livelihoods. The four-year non-recovery of agriculture in provinces stricken by supertyphoon Yolanda leaving farms vulnerable to repeated calamities also illustrates government’s long-term neglect of the vital sector.
IBON said that long-term sustainable employment will only be created by veering away from the same old neoliberal policies and working towards true long-term development of domestic agriculture and industries. ###