Manila, September 17, 2003  (STAR) By Rica D. Delfinado  - The country’s unemployment rate rose to 12.7 percent in July, from 11.2 percent in the same period last year, as the economy continued to fail to create enough jobs for its rapidly growing population.

The National Statistics Office (NSO), which reports labor data every quarter, said yesterday that the number of jobless Filipinos swelled to 4.348 million in July from 3.814 million in the same period last year.

The Department of Labor and Employment(DOLE) attributed the increase in the unemployment rate to poor weather conditions in the last three months and other natural disasters.

Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas said the agriculture, fishery and forestry sector recorded the highest number of unemployment during the review period.

"The increase in unemployment in the agriculture sector can be directly attributed to the extremely poor weather conditions in the last three months," Sto. Tomas said.

The labor chief said that since May, the country had been battered by tropical storms and widespread flooding that affected the country’s agriculture performance.

The government statistics office reported that 11 regions posted double-digit unemployment rates, with the National Capital Region (NCR) posting the highest rate at 17.2 percent as job seekers flocked from the rural areas to the metropolis.

During the review period, the country’s total labor force, or those 15 years and over who are seeking jobs, totaled 50.751 million, 221,000 higher from July last year’s 50.530 million.

The employment rate, on the other hand, went down to 87.3 percent from 88.8 percent a year ago. The figure was also lower than the 87.8-percent employment rate recorded in April as well as the 89.4-percent posted in January.

In real terms, the number of economically productive Filipinos declined to 29.958 million in July from 30.104 million in the same period last year.

Some five to seven million Filipinos out of the total population of 80 million work abroad.

Based on NSO survey, Northern Mindanao reported the highest employment population ratio at 68.2 percent while Cagayan Valley was next at 64.8 percent.

The proportion of employment in agriculture to total employment was 34.8 percent. In the industry sector, employment reached 16.6 percent while in the services sector, 48.6 percent.

Under the agriculture sector, those engaged in farming, hunting and forestry accounted for the majority with a 30.7-percent share while those in the fishery sector accounted for only 4.1 percent.

Under the industry group, the manufacturing sector contributed for the bulk of employed with the construction sector accounting for the rest.

For those working in the services sector, the wholesale and retail trade, repair of motor vehicles accounted for the bulk of total employed.

The NSO also said that aside from the 4.348 million who were unemployed, some 6.211 million workers were those who desire more hours of work or the underemployed. – With Mayen Jaymalin

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved