FINANCIAL CRISIS BOTH IMPROVED, WORSENED PHL WORKING CONDITIONS

MANILA, APRIL 30, 2012 (PHILSTAR) By Cheryl M. Arcibal - An agency of the United Nations found both positive and negative impacts of the global financial crisis on the Philippines' employment conditions.

According to the International Labour Organization's "World of Work Report 2012: Better Jobs for a Better Economy", the Philippines was one of the 17 countries where employment rates increased despite the crisis.

"...Brazil, China, and the Philippines all performed relatively well during the global crisis in terms of employment and also managed to improve their investment to GDP ratio. Between 2007 and 2010, Brazil's investment to GDP ratio increased by 0.9 percentage points; while the unemployment rate fell by 2.6-percentage points in Brazil and remained virtually flat in China and the Philippines," the report said.

The report said Brazil allocated and spent $396 billion between 2007 and 2010 to public infrastructure development, while public investment was identified as a growth driver both for the Philippines and China.

The study also said the Philippines was one of the several countries where inequality decreased during the crisis period.

However, the ILO said landlessness increased over the past decades in the Philippines. The agriculture sector, which employs most poor Filipinos, remains one of the major employment sectors in the Philippines.

"Related to the issue of access to food is the issue of access to land, which is quite skewed in developing economies....Land has become increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few landowners and landlessness has been increasing over the past decades in a number of countries (Bangladesh, Cambodia, the Philippines and Thailand)," the ILO said.

Also, Philippines is one of the two countries identified where there in no significant change in poverty rates during the crisis period. The other country is Malaysia.

The failure of the improvement in the country's poverty rate was a marked contrast to the general performance of developing economies.

"In about three-quarters of the developing economies there was a decline in national poverty rates between pre-crisis and crisis periods, which was most marked in the Latin American region followed by the Asian countries and Uganda and Rwanda in the African region," the ILO said.

The poverty situation is worsened by unemployment, the ILO said.

"The social impact of the current global crisis has been manifold, as rising unemployment and falling incomes further deepen poverty and worsen inequality in certain countries. In many of the developing economies, the informal sector labor force has expanded with the entry of the unemployed from the formal sector," the ILO said.

Meanwhile, the ILO also said that despite signs that economic growth has resumed in some regions, the global employment situation is alarming and shows no sign of recovery in the near future.

The ILO said around 50 million jobs are still missing compared to the situation that existed before the crisis. It also warns that a new and more problematic phase of the global jobs crisis is emerging.

The missing jobs are owing to the shift in many governments, especially in advanced economies, to prioritize a combination of fiscal austerity and tough labour market reforms. The report said such measures have devastating consequences on labor markets in general and job creation in particular. They have also mostly failed to reduce fiscal deficits.

"The narrow focus of many Eurozone countries on fiscal austerity is deepening the jobs crisis and could even lead to another recession in Europe”, said Raymond Torres, Director of the ILO Institute for International Labour Studies and lead author of the report.

"Countries that have chosen job-centred macroeconomic policies have achieved better economic and social outcomes”, added Torres. “Many of them have also become more competitive and have weathered the crisis better than those that followed the austerity path. We can look carefully at the experience of those countries and draw lessons.”

Second, in advanced economies, many jobseekers are demoralized and are losing skills, something which is affecting their chances of finding a new job. Also, small companies have limited access to credit, which in turn is depressing investment and preventing employment creation. In these countries, especially in Europe, job recovery is not expected before the end of 2016 – unless there is a dramatic shift in policy direction.

Third, in most advanced economies, many of the new jobs are precarious. Non-standard forms of employment are on the rise in 26 out of the 50 economies with available information.

There are, however, a few countries that managed to generate jobs while improving the quality of employment, or at least one aspect of it. For example, in Brazil, Indonesia and Uruguay employment rates have increased while the incidence of informal employment has declined. This was mainly due to the introduction of well-designed employment and social policies.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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