Philippine job growth lowest in ASEAN-5

Job seekers at a Manila job fair

With the recent assessment by the World Bank that the Philippine economy surged an unexpected 6.6 per cent in 2012, many political and business commentators are wondering:  Where are the jobs?

The Philippines is still the most anemic in terms of job growth, with a total of 10 million people unemployed in the country of nearly 95 million, when compared to its other ASEAN-5 members – the heavyweight economies of Southeast Asia – with 3.0 per cent (third quarter of 2012) in Malaysia, 6.14 per cent (August 2012) in Indonesia, 0.56 per cent (October 2012) in Thailand, 1.7 per cent in Singapore.

Reporting the exact unemployment rate gets sticky in the Philippines, mostly because the figure is so politically loaded. The official unemployment rate in the Philippines for 2012 was just 6.8 per cent because of the adaption of a new methodology that doesn’t count the working age population who have stopped looking for jobs, which went down to 63.9 per cent in October 2012 from 66.3 per cent in October 2011.

Additionally, this rate also doesn’t factor in unpaid family workers, which represented a substantial 10.4 per cent of the total workforce – or 4.1 million people – in the same year.

When eying the numbers only does the actual gravity of the jobless rate in the Philippines become clear. In this form, the unemployment rate in 2012 was closer to 10.5 per cent – or 4.4 million, up by 48,000 from 2011.

Along with his much welcomed economic growth statement, World Bank Country Director for the Philippines Motoo Konishi also had some less tasty news to deliver: The Philippines must create 14.6 million jobs between now and 2016 if the political aspirations of inclusive growth are to be fulfilled.

This atop the 12.5 million Filipinos that have sought opportunities overseas has to be seriously addressed. It is had to have confidence in a place where over 10 per cent of the population must work abroad to keep the country afloat.