DESPITE all the problems besetting the country, such as the threats brought by terror groups like Maute and Abu Sayyaf especially in Mindanao, as well as the continuing destabilization moves by some sectors opposed to the current regime, outlooks are still pretty bright in the economic front.

Credit therefore must be given to the efficient leadership of President Rodrigo ‘Digong’ Duterte and his economic managers who have been doing a remarkable job in keeping intact the country’s economic prospects.


Job Opportunities

Aside from fighting criminals and lawlessness, ranking high in the agenda of the Duterte administration is creating a more progressive and sustainable society which it hopes to attain by providing more job and employment opportunities to our labor force.    

Hence, in keeping with the goals of the Philippine Development Plan (PDP), the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) is pushing to sustain the 3 percent decline in unemployment by 2022 through increased jobs creation in the manufacturing and services sectors.

The April 2017 Labor Force Survey (LFS) of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed the country’s unemployment rate went down to 5.7 percent from 6.1 percent in April 2016.


Lower Underemployment

Likewise, underemployment, or the employed persons wanting additional work, reached its lowest in more than 10 ten years at 16.1 percent in April 2017.

This is lower by 962,000 workers, or 12.9 percent, compared with underemployed workers recorded in April 2016.

Meanwhile, employment in the agriculture sector increased by 1.2 percent, with net employment gains of 125,000 workers.


Industry Employment

Industry employment increased to 7.4 million, and manufacturing posted employment gains of 1.6 percent, equivalent to an additional 55,000 workers.

"Increased activity confirms the renewed positive outlook of exporting firms that had anticipated increases in the volume of export production,” said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia.

However, the services sector—which accounts for more than half of the country’s total employment—recorded a net employment loss of 557,000 workers.

He added that the government should innovate employment opportunities by developing low-cost, labor-intensive but efficient methods for meeting current infrastructure needs and essential health and education services.

Sadly, there has been a declining trend in women labor which dropped by 46.2 percent last year, which poses a challenge in meeting the PDP target of increasing labor force participation of women to 51.3 percent by 2022.



The NEDA said the manufacturing output remains positive despite a slower growth in April 2017.

The three-month moving average growth rate in the Volume of Production Index (VoPI) at 9.7 percent and Value of Production Index (VaPI) at 8.2 percent reflected the robust performance of the sector.

In the Monthly Integrated Survey of Selected Industries (MISSI) of the Philippine Statistics Authority, a NEDA-attached agency, VoPI for manufacturing grew by 5.9 percent in April 2017, lower than the 12.8 percent in the previous month and the 10.1 percent in April 2016.

“Despite the slowdown at the onset of the second quarter, manufacturing output is expected to sustain its growth following anticipated increases in demand during the harvest season and the enrolment period in schools,” said Pernia.

The growth in manufacturing output in the first month of Q2 2017 was due to sustained production of petroleum products (up 51.7 percent due to higher demand for gasoline from Vietnam, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, and Indonesia. The demand for diesel is expected to increase as governments in the Middle East stock up for the Ramadan season.

Also, the double-digit growth in the production of basic metals at 28.5 percent drove the sustained growth in construction-related manufactures.

“The government’s ‘Build BuildBuild’ infrastructure program is anticipated to further increase construction activities in the country which will provide additional boost to the manufacturing sector,” Pernia added.


EU, East Asia markets 

The NEDA voiced optimism of the country’s trade performance for the rest of the year considering thriving exports and trade linkages, especially to Europe and East Asia, with the 12.1 percent growth of exports offsetting the 0.1 percent decline in imports.

For exports, East Asia and the EU remain the top destinations of our products, where trade grew by 10 and 36 percent, respectively, Pernia said.

"Despite global uncertainties, we remain upbeat that the country will sustain the strong performance of export and trade growth recorded in the first quarter,” the Cabinet official said.

Meanwhile, sales of exports to Hong Kong (36.8%), China (26.4%), South Korea (18.9%), and Taiwan (26.4%) posted double-digit growth while exports to Japan fell (-16.6%).

“We aim to deepen our engagement with our neighbors in the Asia-Pacific region to enhance trade and investment links,” said Pernia.

He noted the positive trade contributions of China, where merchandise exports increased by 27.7 percent from October 2016 to April 2017 compared with the 7.1 percent decline from January to September 2016.

"Also worth noting is the tripling of exports to the UAE and India in April. This was the third month that receipts to UAE tripled, and the second month for India, at 286.4 percent (UAE) and 204.1 percent (India).

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