Manila: Unemployment rate in the Philippines has reached 7 per cent in the first quarter of 2014, representing 2.924 million unemployed people, lower than the unemployment rate of 7.5 per cent or 2.969 unemployed workers in the fourth quarter of 2013. It is also lower than the 7.6 per cent unemployment rate and 3 million unemployed a year ago, the National Statistics Office (NSO) said.
But NSO, however, clarified that its figures for first quarter of 2014 and last quarter of 2013 did not include data from Leyte and other provinces in central Philippines which were hit by Typhoon Haiyan, a four-grade storm, in November 2013.
Another source told Gulf News that NSO’s current figures did not include data from Bohol and nearby central Philippine provinces which were hit by 7.2 magnitude earthquake in October 2013.
About six million people lost their work because of Typhoon Haiyan and 330,000 due to the 7.2 magnitude temblor which both occurred in central Philippines. Between 14 to 15 million people were affected by Typhoon Haiyan.
“Because of these two calamities in late 2013, unemployed people in the Philippines could reach almost 10 million,” said an NSO statistician who requested anonymity.
NSO’s figures for the first quarter of 2014 came close to the 2013 figure of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) which said that the unemployment rate in the Philippines for that year was 7.3 per cent or 3.097 million people out of work.
Earlier, Gulf News estimated that 12 million Filipinos were unemployed by end of 2013, based on ILO’s 2013 data and other sources.
In late 2013, various government agencies, non-government organisation, and other international funding institutions came together to mitigate the devastating effects of Typhoon Haiyan and the earthquake that damaged central Philippines.
The ILO has been working closely with the Philippine government since that time.
Last April this year, a total of 50 people including aspiring entrepreneurs, displaced small-scale company and vendors joined the labour department and ILO’s project called Community-based Enterprise Development (CBED), in Haiyan-affected areas, which was facilitated by community leaders who talked about business development, costing, and marketing.
Plans were made to bring the same kind of workshop to other Haiyan-affected areas.
Similar C-BED pilot workshops were held in Tacloban earlier, in February and March 2014.
Last March 6, Secretary Joel Villanueva, head of the Technical Education and Skills development Authority (TESDA) and Lawrence Jeff Johnson, director of ILO Philippines, signed a memorandum of agreement to undertake a project to give tools, materials, and training allowances to about 1,390 beneficiaries who were displaced by Typhoon Haiyan.
Some 400 beneficiaries were chosen from Tacloban City, Leyte; 360 more from Ormoc City and Guiuan town; 300 from northern Cebu and Negros Occidental; 200 from Bohol; and 110 from Coron, Palawan.
The project involved a wide variety of training for tourism-related activities; for construction-related skills such as carpentry, concrete fixing, electrical installation, masonry, plumbing, roofing, tiling, and welding; and for mechanical repair and maintenance of appliances, electrical generators, machines, and mobile phones. The training programme included development of community leaders to conduct training and post training projects
The project, to be held in technical and vocational institutes in central Philippines, will last until December 2014.
“When this project is completed, survivors of Typhoon Haiyan will be equipped to seek employment or to start their own businesses,” Villanueva told Gulf News with optimism.
Because of the critical level of displacement and unemployment brought about Typhoon Haiyan and the earthquake in late 2013, the ILO and the labour department began mobilising in late November to create 20,000 jobs in a programme they called emergency employment.
At the time, ILO’s Johnson, said, “We reached out to 100,000 people the [programme’s] initial phase in 2013 to help improve their living and working condition.”
Assessments are now being made on how effective the responses have been in mitigating the impact of Typhoon Haiyan and the 7.2 earthquake, on unemployment.