• Melo Acuna

Government needs to do more, says NAGKAISA Labor Coalition

Unemployment remains high as NAGKAISA calls more tangible programs

MANILA – Labor coalition NAGKAISA said while the government reported a significant drop in unemployment rate from 17.7% in April to 10% in July, they called on the government to look into disparities in wages and salaries of those employed, among other factors.

The coalition said the drop is a natural cause of opening up the economy after one of the strictest lockdowns ever imposed in developing countries.

“Compared to unemployment in July 2019, the current level of unemployment remains high as a result of the economic crisis due to the pandemic and the government’s conservative approach to recovery,” NAGKAISA said in a statement signed by its Chairman Atty. Sonny Matula.

He said the reported jobs recovery, especially those tied with market responses, will not be enough to cut the unemployment rate further by the end of the year or until 2021 with more aggressive stimulus programs.

The labor coalition said wage and salary employment in private establishments remain short by 1.9 million compared to its level in July 2019 when economic conditions were normal. It was also noted jobs recovery took place in self-employment and unpaid family work, where self-employment increased by 563,000 while unpaid family workers increased by 550,000.

They also said underemployment is higher by 1.3 million in July 2020 compared to its level in 2019.

“The fact that underemployment rate still increased from 13.6% in July 2019 to 17.3% in July 2020 and because this coincides with increase in self-employment means that although workers found employment, the income they earn is not enough so they are forced to look for additional work,” the coalition statement said.

NAGKAISA said with these figures, it only goes to show many firms have not recovered from the economic crisis.

What is needed is a more aggressive public employment program (PEP) and support for struggling firms particularly the MSMEs to address massive job displacement, recover lost jobs and create new employment opportunities based on defined social needs.

The coalition said the unemployment rate in NCR, CALABARZON and Central Luzon remain in double digit while underemployment rate in most parts of the country hardly moved.

“And we fear that both the unemployment and underemployment numbers may still be affected by business decisions this month when employers decide on whether to keep their workers floating or not as required under the six-month rule under DOLE’s Labor Advisory No. 17,” the statement added. (Melo M. Acuña)

NAGKAISA Labor Coalition Chair Atty. Sonny Matula. (File Photo/Melo M. Acuna)

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