SENATOR Juan Miguel F. Zubiri is urging the government to hasten infrastructure construction as the best two-pronged strategy to create more jobs and modernize transport infrastructure.
“There are fewer unemployed Filipinos this year, from 2.75 million (6.5 percent) in July last year to 5.4 percent in July this year. That means 2.33-million able-bodied Filipinos are jobless. Or, one of every 20 employable persons is out of work. That is still too much,” said Zubiri.
He said there are also seven million people looking for additional work “due to insecurity, seasonality of jobs or need more income like many of the working poor,” Zubiri said.
Zubiri noted, that of the total 2.33-million jobless Filipinos, half (48.2 percent) are 15 to 24 years old and 28.2 percent are 25 to 34 years old.
“That is a waste of human capital because these are the ages when people are most physically fit and mentally alert. I stress this without devaluing experience and specialization achieved by older workers.”
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, our total labor force is 41.342 million or one-third of 64.936-million Filipinos aged 15 years and above.
“We have a significant youth bulge. More than half of our 102 million population are 15-34 years old and many are unemployed. The top three jobless regions are CALABARZON (7.6 percent), Metro Manila (6.5 percent) and Northern Mindanao (6.2 percent). “
According to Zubiri, of the unemployed, one-fifth are college graduates even. These facts give flesh to the United Nations warning that unemployment among the youth in developing countries is an indicator of restlessness and precursor of political instability.
“Also, the kidnap-for-ransom gangs, illegal drugs and other criminal syndicates, insurgent and terrorist groups recruit from the army of unemployed youth.
“We should stop this trend by pushing the envelope on job-creation. Let us stop underspending.”
Last year, he said the government missed its target infrastructure expenditures of P170 billion, which is 15.4 percent of GDP.
Zubiri said “We spent much less at only 14.4 percent of GDP. Our economic planners cited poor budget preparation work as a major cause such that the year is almost done and yet much remains unobligated in their budget.”
Zubiri, author of the bills on Mindanao railways (S.B. 120) and Philippine National Railways modernization (S. B. 127), noted that the Senate set Technical Working Group meetings on these.
“If we fast-track construction of transport infra, we will create hundreds of thousands of jobs and literally spread the wealth around.”
Industry provides 17.8 percent of jobs, with the construction subsector accounting for half or 48.1 percent.
A PSA paper also revealed construction yields the highest multiplier at 1.92. It means that a one-peso change in the output of construction generates a 1.92 pesos additional output in the economy.
It is estimated that a PhP100 million increase in investments will generate an additional output of approximately PhP193 million.
On these two railways projects alone, he said the government will create jobs in the top three jobless regions especially among the youth in Metro Manila, Southern Tagalog and Mindanao.