The news is that a long line of job seekers are forming a beeline to the offices–or even homes–of our newly-elected officials. All the talk of change, of a new Philippines, of an empowered Filipino, appears to start on the wrong foot. Or is it?
Such is the reality in the Philippines. Despite the rosy outlook painted by the previous administration, unemployment is still at 7.6 percent. That means that more than 2.9 million Filipinos do not have jobs. For those who have jobs, one in five are underemployed. It is not surprising to hear of a college graduate ending up as a clerk or as a saleslady.
Government figures have indicated a sharp lowering of the country’s Gross Domestic Product from 3.5 percent in 2007-2008 to 0.9 percent in 2008-2009. Out of these figures, the sharpest GDP decrease was felt in the industry sector, which from 3.1 percent in 2007-2008 went down to -2 the year after.
The economic sunrise for the Philippines today is in the services sector, which almost maintained the same 3.3 percent growth experienced in 2007-2008. This would explain why there is a marked increase in the enrollment for schools offering Hotel and Restaurant Management today. Across the Philippines, enrollment in nursing schools has decreased. It no longer is seen as the path to economic prosperity that it used to be.
To say that Filipinos today need jobs is not an understatement. The reality is that in most areas in the country, the government continues to be the biggest employer. Dumaguete City has over 1800 Job Order (casual) employees as against less than 600 permanent workers.
Dumaguete City, however, may be lucky to host some Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industries. Companies like Teletech, SPI Global, PLDT E-Ventus, Qualfon, to name a few, provide jobs for many Dumaguetenos and pump in more than P20 million of fresh money each month in salaries alone. In turn, the spending power generated by all this cash should translate to more income for schools, restaurants, appliance stores, groceries, entertainment and clothing stores, not to mention the lowly tricycle driver.
Against this background, the government may not be the biggest employer after all. In Dumaguete and Negros Oriental, there’s money lurking around in the private sector. Those who have the money must be encouraged to use their money to generate jobs and generate more business. This way, we will lead the other cities in creating positive change for our country.