Pre-COVID jobless rate of 5% a challenge


    Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez yesterday expressed hope the country’s unemployment rate could go back to near pre-pandemic levels of around 5 percent in early 2021 not just by reopening more industries but with the entry of new investments that the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) expects from 90 business leads also next year.

    Lopez said in a press briefing yesterday huge capital outlays from these business leads — amounting nearly a trillion pesos — as well as the passage of the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises and of the budget hopefully this year will pull up the job numbers.

    Unemployment has eased to 8.7 percent as of October from a record 17.7 percent in April.

    The unemployment rate stood at 5.3 percent in January.

    According to Lopez, reaching pre-coronavirus disease 2019 unemployment rate will remain challenge especially as the vaccine will not be available until next year.

    “We cannot rely solely on easing restrictions,” he added.

    But Lopez said sustained reforms such as the amendments to key legislations such as the Public Service Act, Retail Trade Liberalization Act and the Foreign Investment Negative List as well as the rollout of the infrastructure projects under the Build, Build, Build program will generate investments that would in turn create more jobs.

    At the Manufacturing Summit also yesterday, Lopez said the country developing its own Philippine Skills Framework to reskill and upskill workers for Industry 4.0 technologies in cooperation with SkillsFuture Singapore to be able to tap jobs in high-tech sectors.