PH tops Asean list of jobless, says ILO
MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines has the highest unemployment rate among the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), according to the International Labor Organization (ILO).
Based on the ILO Global Employment Trends report published in January, the Philippines registered an unemployment rate of 7.3 percent as of 2013.
This is relatively high compared with the rest of the Southeast Asian region.
In most of Southeast Asia, the unemployment rate showed a downward trend—from an average of 6 percent between 2000 and 2008 to a projected 4.5 percent in the next few years.
Ranking just below Philippines is Indonesia with 6 percent, the study showed.
Brunei has 3.7 percent; Burma, 3.5 percent; Malaysia, 3.2 percent; and Singapore, 3.1 percent.
The countries with the lowest unemployment rates are Vietnam, 1.9 percent; Laos, 1.4 percent; Thailand, 0.8 percent; and Cambodia, 0.3 percent.
ILO said global unemployment for 2013 reached 202 million, an increase of almost 5 million compared with the year before.
In the Philippines, the high unemployment rate will persist as the country has failed to translate the significant improvement in its gross domestic product in the past two years to employment opportunities for its unemployed workers, ILO Director General Guy Ryder said.
“Despite robust economic growth in excess of 6.8 percent in the last two years, job growth has been subdued and the unemployment rate has remained at around 7 percent throughout 2012 and 2013,” Ryder said.
Declining job quality
The ILO official also noted the declining quality of employment in developing countries, including the Philippines, last year.
“In 2013, the number of workers in extreme poverty—living on less than $1.25 a day declined by only 2.7 percent globally, one of the lowest rates over the past decade, with the exception of the immediate crisis years,” Ryder said.
He urged developing countries to implement reforms to generate more jobs, particularly for the youth sector, which accounts for most of the world’s unemployed workers.
An estimated 74.5 million workers under the age of 25 are now unemployed.
This can be attributed, according to Ryder, to restrictive policies in these countries, such as reductions in public spending and hikes in income and consumption taxes that continue to hinder job creation.
“What is urgently needed is policy rethink. Stronger efforts are needed to accelerate employment creation and to support enterprises that create jobs,” Ryder said.
He added that a switch to more employment-friendly policies and rising labor incomes would boost economic growth and job creation.
“It is crucial to strengthen social protection floors and promote transitions to formal employment,” he added.
The ILO has projected a bleak outlook for employment in the Philippines and other countries this year despite the expected slow improvement in the world economy.
Ryder, in a previous statement, said the ILO projected only 200 million new jobs would be created by 2018 worldwide due to weak employment growth in most countries.
“This is less than what is required to absorb the growing number of new entrants to the labor market,” he said.
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