MANILA (Mabuhay) – Following media reports saying that the Philippines has the highest unemployment rate in ASEAN, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz on Monday said the numbers used were incomparable.
“Practices in the measurement of unemployment using these criteria through the Labor Force Survey vary from country to country, such as periodicity of data collection, relaxation of a criteria, and reference period, thus, resulting in non-comparability of unemployment rates,” she said in a statement e-mailed to media outfits.
At the same time, Baldoz admitted that the Philippines is facing “the challenge of ‘jobless growth’ squarely and with more vigorous efforts.”
Programs to boost employment include: intensified job-skill matching and employment facilitation; enhancement of the productivity of micro, small, and medium enterprises; and facilitating the mobility of professionals.
Baldoz said the Philippines’ job placement mechanisms have been cited by the ILO Global Employment Trends 2014 Report saying they will benefit both economies and workers in the ASEAN.
All these government efforts, she said, seek to enhance the employability of workers and the competitiveness of enterprises.
Baldoz cited three differences that resulted in the “non-comparable” comparisons:
- Frequency of data collection
“Malaysia and Thailand collect unemployment data every month, while Cambodia collects data only once a year. On the other hand, Singapore, Vietnam, and Indonesia conduct their LFS every quarter, like the Philippines,” she said.
- Definition of criteria for terms in calculating the unemployment rate
“Indonesia, Malaysia, and Cambodia have relaxed their application of the criteria ‘seeking work,’ while Thailand, Singapore, and Vietnam have not. Specifically, the Philippines has relaxed the criterion ‘seeking work’ in its unemployment measurement to include those who did not actively looked for work on account that no work is available, temporary illness/disability, bad weather, awaiting result of previous job application, and awaiting for re-hire/job recall,” she explained.
- Use of “reference period”
“The Philippines follows the ILO standard ‘available for work during the reference period’ with an added two weeks following interview date. Singapore and Cambodia use the reference period ‘two weeks following interview date.’ Thailand uses the reference period ‘past week’ while Indonesia and Malaysia use ‘not specified,’” Baldoz said.
The media reports on the comparative unemployment rates in the region quoted the International Labor Organization’s Global Employment Trends 2014.
Baldoz said the Philippines adheres by the ILO standards of measurement of unemployment.
“Without belaboring the ILO Report further, I state that the Philippines adheres to the 1982 ILO Standard on the measurement of unemployment which considers an individual unemployed using the following three criteria: without job, looking for work, and available for work,” she said.
Nevertheless, the labor chief said, the government is improving its labor market information delivery systems, “working on a cross-country skills recognition framework through the Philippines Qualifications Framework and Asian Qualifications Referencing Framework.” (MNS)