Government economic managers set a goal to reduce underemployment rate in the country to below 14 percent from the latest data of 18.4 percent.
Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia told reporters in a media roundtable discussion the target would be included in the Philippine Development Plan for 2017 to 2022.
Latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed underemployment rate, which refers to those who were working but wanted more work, hit 18.4 percent in April 2016, exceeding the 17-percent target for 2016.
This means that 7.3 million Filipinos were underemployed mostly in the agriculture and services sectors.
“Underemployment I think needs more attention actually. It is still at double-digits, so we should try to reduce that, maybe by another five percentage points,” Pernia said.
Pernia, who is also the director general of the National Economic and Development Authority, the agency in charge of the formulation of PDP, said the government would try to address the issue of underemployment rate before President Rodrigo Duterte stepped down in 2022.
He said while unemployment rate would be difficult to be trimmed down, the reduction in the underemployment number would be a good start to further pull down the unemployment rate in the long term.
“We will resolve to reduce unemployment rate, especially underemployment rate, which is really the bigger problem. That should be doable and that should be good enough because it’s very hard to reduce unemployment,” Pernia said.
Pernia said the way to reduce the underemployment rate was to generate better-quality jobs. Gabrielle H. Binaday
“The way to do that is to create better quality jobs that are more regular and therefore more full time, that would reduce unemployment by itself, as well as... reduce the unemployed family workers and self-employed, meaning also those in the informal sectors, so they’re not really full-time workers,” he said.
Unemployment rate in April 2016 stood at 6.1 percent, which meant about 2.6 million Filipinos were jobless and 39.9 million had jobs.
The Duterte administration also set a goal to reduce poverty incidence by 1.5 to 2 percentage points every year to 16 percent before 2022.
Pernia said the “aggressive” implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health law will be a boost to the government’s goal.
Latest data from the Philippines Statistics Authority showed that poverty incidence in the Philippines fell to 26.3 percent of the population in the first half of 2016 from 27.9 percent three years ago.