Philippines: Close to 100,000 lost jobs in January-June

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MANILA (Philippine Daily Inquirer) — Close to 100,000 workers were laid off in the first half of the year due to the Covid-19pandemic, more than a third of whom lost their jobs in June alone, the Department of Labor and Employment or DOLE said.

The figure is just a fraction of the 4.9 million who lost their jobs in April, out of the 7.3 million who were unemployed that month, according to a June 5 report of the Philippine Statistics Authority or PSA.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III had explained that DOLE’s job loss figures were based on company reports and the PSA’s were culled from a survey.

As of June 21,  DOLE’s job displacement report showed that at least 3,189 establishments submitted either notices of retrenchment or shutdown, affecting a combined 90,215 workers.

The bulk of these establishments, or 2,895, said they had to reduce the number of their workers while 294 were forced to close shop.

More than a third of the displaced workers, or 36,086, came from a spike in the number of businesses filing notices of retrenchment or closure. From an average of 276 companies from January to May, the number of affected businesses soared to 1,809 in June.

“Majority of the establishments who reported retrenchment aim to prevent further losses and save business operations,” Assistant Labor Secretary Dominique Tutay said on Wednesday.

In mid-March, the government placed the entire Luzon island on strict lockdown in an effort to curb the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus which causes Covid-19. Other major urban hubs followed suit, virtually shutting down economic activity in the country for more than two months.

With the easing of quarantine measures starting in May, some businesses and industries were allowed to resume operations on a limited scale.

The DOLE report showed that among the major industries, the administrative and support service sector was the worst hit as 28,192 workers from 373 establishments were displaced.

Other sectors with high displacement of workers are service-related businesses (10,635), manufacturing (10,260), wholesale and retail trade (7,276), and accommodation and food services (5,877).

Metro Manila had the highest number of displaced workers at 45,046, followed by Calabarzon (17,805) and Central Luzon (8,107).

DOLE said a total of 104,163 businesses with more than 2.8 million workers implemented flexible work arrangements or temporary closures.

Of that number, at least 1.9 million are employed by companies that are temporarily closed due to Covid-19.

To cope with the large number of Filipinos who lost their jobs, opposition Sen. Risa Hontiveros said the administration should drop its plan to consider hiring foreigners in state-funded flagship projects, citing the PSA report 7.3 million unemployed in April — the highest in 15 years.

Hontiveros said the government should “hire Filipinos first,” noting that up to 400,000 overseas Filipinos workers were also in danger of losing their jobs as the contagion forced many companies around the world to shut down.

She said the National Economic and Development Authority and President Duterte’s economic managers should immediately come up with a “masterplan that will generate new sources of employment and new investments that will be ready to replace those that have been lost.”

“We need to harness local skills and talents that are available to us. Let’s ensure first that Filipinos will have jobs before we allow (foreign workers) in,” Hontiveros said in a statement.

“We need a solution to job losses. We need to match skills to available and future jobs. The government has to step in as one of our major employers through its flagship projects while we are in crisis,” she stressed.



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