“This is the kind of employment growth that alarms, rather than gives comfort.”
This was labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno’s reaction to new employment figures released by the National Statistics Office showing that the country now has the lowest unemployment rate in four years, agreeing with an economist’s analysis that employment figures were boosted by low-quality jobs.
Prof. Benjamin Diokno of the University of the Philippines School of Economics said that a quarter of the 2 million jobs generated in October this year is composed of unpaid work in family-owned businesses.
He also said that the number of people working below 20 hours a week increased by 1.5 million, while more people are looking for jobs, thereby increasing the labor participation rate.
“We should not be comforted by news of record-high employment levels given the commensurate rise in low-quality work. We know the nature of low-quality work: it pays less and its increase indicates growing poverty and even hunger,” said Roger Soluta, KMU secretary-general.
“It also means the failure of the government’s so-called employment program to create decent work and provide living wages. These figures indicate that poor people are getting more desperate and ingenuous in finding work because of the government’s ineptitude in the employment department,” he added.
“The spread of low-quality work also means that youths who should be in school are being forced to work to make up for parents’ meager income. That means that many youths are being barred from the opportunity of getting better employment in the future,” he said.
KMU also slammed the government of Pres. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III for merely replicating its predecessors’ employment programs that are dependent on foreign investments and foreign markets.
“Now that the economies of the US and other capitalist countries are being wracked by a severe crisis, there should be ways of generating employment that rely on factors internal to the country and directed at meeting domestic needs,” Soluta said.
“That means the implementation of genuine land reform to meet the country’s basic needs such as food, and of an industrialization that is nationalist. It is only through these policies that we can really generate jobs and go beyond the government’s piecemeal approach that is really geared at winning the propaganda war and not the war against unemployment,” he added. Roger Soluta, KMU Scretary General