MANILA, February 24, 2004
(STAR) The Arroyo administration has been hitting its target of one million new jobs created annually, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) reported Monday.

The DOLE said since January 2001 when President Gloria Arroyo assumed the presidency, the economy has generated a total of 3.175 million jobs for an average of 1,06 million per year.

"This is 215 percent higher than the 1.007 million generated by the previous administration for an average of 336,000 per year," the DOLE noted

"The unemployment rate, however, has remained relatively constant at around 11 percent, reflecting the fact that starting in 2001, our labor force started growing by 1.2 million annually, compared to the 700,000 during the previous administration," the agency pointed out.

It also noted that last year’s employment performance was adversely affected by the Iraq war, the outbreak of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome in Asia and the series of typhoons that hit the Philippines.

"It was the agriculture sector that accounted for the biggest loss in employment mainly before of the typhoons," they said.

DOLE also clarified that promoting employment also entails taking advantage not only of the domestic labor market but also the global market.

It revealed that overseas deployment of Filipino workers reached 2.6 million over the past three years, or an average of 875,000 yearly.

The figure, according to the DOLE, is 4.6 percent higher than the 2.5 million overseas Filipino workers sent abroad under the two and a half year watch of ousted President Joseph Estrada.

The DOLE said "it is not correct to compare the unemployment rate of the country with other Asian countries-- because we have not fully subscribed to the international standard definition of unemployment as adopted during the 18th International Conference of Labor Statisticians in 1982."

The DOLE explained that the international standard definition of the term "unemployed" refers to all persons who during the reference period were without work, currently available for work and actively seeking work.

"All three criteria must be satisfied simultaneously to consider a person unemployed," the DOLE said. It added that the Philippines uses only two of the criteria-- "without work" and "seeking work."

"This makes our unemployment rate substantially higher than those of our neighboring countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand that adopt the "availability criterion."

To correct the disparity, the DOLE said the National Statistics Office is currently revising the unemployment framework to include the "availability criterion."

The DOLE said full implementation of the revised definition of "unemployment" would be attained with the Labor Force Survey to be conducted in July this year.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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