In September, unemployment dropped to 5 per cent. However, this is due to high levels of underemployment as well as the end of summertime employment for students. The Department for Migrant Workers has signed an agreement with Saudi Arabia to protect Philippine workers in that country.
Manila (AsiaNews) – According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, 5 per cent of the active population was out of work in September, down from 5.3 per cent in August.
The drop is partly due to 48,000 students who left their summer jobs to go back to school.
At the same time, the level of underemployment remains high and rising – 15.4 per cent of the active population, or 7.33 million workers, up by 1.3 per cent over August.
Despite underemployment, the data show a positive trend.
Local authorities have appealed to Filipinos not to go abroad, which has socially negative effects at home.
Yet, for Filipinos, emigration is necessary to escape poverty and underemployment, and migrant remittances last year added US$ 31 billion to the GDP.
This is especially important in the post-pandemic period because, despite the positive employment data, the country continues to be in economic dire straits.
On Monday, the newly formed Department of Migrant Workers announced that the government would allow Philippine citizens to work in Saudi Arabia, a year after it banned Filipinos, mostly women, from working in that country in protest against discrimination and harassment by Saudi employers.
Secretary of the Department of Migrant Workers Susan Ople pointed out that the agreements worked out by the two countries now include a standard employment contract, with insurance to cover unpaid wages, and the possibility for workers to change employer in case of abuse.
Meanwhile, thousands of legal cases involving unpaid wages are pending. To this must be added scores of cases related to human trafficking or inhuman and degrading treatment.
An estimated 190,000 Filipinos were employed in Saudi Arabia before the pandemic, a figure that made the Saudi kingdom one of the main destinations for the Philippine diaspora, or about 10 per cent of the country’s population.
For the Philippines, it is one of the main issues as its citizens face potential abuses and the obstacles to practising their faith.