Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Jobs, jobs, jobs

(Note: this is my article for www.thelobbyist.biz, June 19, 2010)

Jobs, jobs, jobs

When people have stable and good-paying jobs and do not lose their ambitions in life, they become self-reliant, confident and independent-minded. They do not demand much subsidies and special protection from the government and politicians as they can take care of their own lives and their companies.

On the contrary, when people have no stable job, or endure low-paying jobs, or they may have stable jobs (like work in government) but have little or no ambition in life, they become less confident and dependent on more protection and subsidies from the government and the politicians.

It is extremely important, therefore, that the economy should remain competitive so that private enterprises can continue hiring people, or people can put up their own enterprises and become start-up entrepreneurs, creating new jobs for themselves and their employees.

The National Statistics Office (NSO) released this week the result of its April 2010 labor force survey. See the table below.

Indicators April 2009 April 2010 Increase/Dec.

Population, 15 yrs and above (mill.) 59.07 60.56 1.49
Labor force participation rate 64.0 % 63.6 %
People in the labor force (mill.) 37.80 38.52 0.72
Employed (mill.) 35.0 35.41 0.41

Unemployed (mill.) 2.83 3.10 0.27
Unemployment rate 7.5 % 8.0 %
Underemployed (mill.) 6.62 6.30 - 0.32
Underemployment rate 18.9 % 17.8 %
Unemployed + Underempl. (mill.) 9.45 9.40 - 0.05

Source: NSO, http://census.gov.ph/data/pressrelease/2010/lf1002tx.html

Here are three notable points in the above figures.

One, there was a big increase in the number of population who are 15 years old and above from April 2009 to April 2010, almost 1.5 million people. Not all of them enter the labor force (ie, they have work or are still actively looking for work) as many of them are still studying (high school to university).

Two, the increase in unemployment rate from 7.5 percent last year to 8.0 percent this year was mitigated by the decrease in underemployment rate, from 18.9 percent to 17.8 percent. The underemployed are those who already have jobs but are still looking for additional work, mainly to augment their low income.

Three, the combined number of unemployed and underemployed remains at a very high figure of 9.4 million people. That number is already more than twice the entire population of Singapore.

There is a big pressure, therefore, for the incoming administration to make the economy become efficient and competitive so that it can create millions of jobs, at least 2 million new jobs per year, and not just 0.4 million as indicated from April 2009 to April 2010. And it should be the private sector, not the government, that should generate most of those new jobs. Why?

There is little or no politics involved when private companies and individual hire people. These enterprises operate in a competitive environment. If they hire lazy people, they might lose money and go bankrupt. Thus, there is pressure on the people, the job-hunters especially, to show some skills and hard work, or the willingness to be trained and re-trained to gain new skills, so that they will be hired. In government, on the other hand, there is high politics involved in general in the hiring of people.

It is imperative, therefore, for the new administration to reduce or lessen the bureaucracies, regulations and taxation by both national and local government units, imposed on entrepreneurs and job creators. This way, there will be less signatures, less paperwork, to be required from entrepreneurs. And this in turn reduces if not controls, corruption.

Jobs, jobs, jobs. This should be among the priority targets of the incoming administrations, national and local, in order to drastically fight high unemployment and high poverty.

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