2K firms close shop, retrench workers amid pandemic

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    DATA from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) shows that over 2,000 companies have either shut down or retrenched workers this year, with a large majority due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, causing job losses to nearly 70,000 employees.

    Based on the latest Job Displacement Monitoring Report of the DOLE, a total of 2,068 companies had displaced workers totaling to 69,022 as of June 8.

    “A total of 69,022 workers were displaced nationwide from 2,068 establishments from January 2020 to present as reported by the DOLE Regional Offices, 91 percent of which reduced workforce (1,875), while the remaining 9 percent reported permanent closure (193),” said the DOLE report.

    The report said the 193 firms that reported permanent closure displaced a total of 5,119 workers.

    On the other hand, the 1,875 companies that retrenched workers affected 63,903 employees.

    The National Capital Region (NCR) had the most number of displaced workers with 36,036; followed by CALABARZON with 14,206.

    Also having high number of displaced workers are Central Luzon (5,113), Cordillera Administrative Region (5,023), Ilocos Region (1,945), Central Visayas (1,929), and Northern Mindanao (1,172).

    In terms of major industry group, having the most displaced workers were under administrative and support services (25,634) and followed by the manufacturing sector (8,400).

    Also suffering massive job losses are other service activities (6,095), wholesale and retail trade (5,172), and accommodation and food service industry (4,001).

    Meanwhile, the monthly breakdown shows that the month of June tallied the highest number of reporting establishments with 688, which meant the displacing of 14,893 workers.

    This is followed by month of February with 371 reporting establishments, covering 30,712 displaced workers nationwide.

    Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government imposed various levels of community quarantine that resulted to the halt in operations of nearly all business establishments.

    Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III yesterday belittled the results of the April 2020 Labor Force Survey (LFS) that shows the country’s unemployment rate spike to 17.7 percent, a statement which was in stark contrast to his statement last Friday that the LFS results are “expected”.

    Speaking at a televised press briefing, Bello said the public shouldn’t fret over the LFS data since this is merely the result of a survey. “The 7.3 million (unemployed), it is just a survey result, and not actual or factual,” said Bello.

    “We need to be clear on the 7.3 million. That is not an actual number,” he stressed.

    In a statement, Bello said that “when the global pandemic hit, we feared that employment will be impacted badly. We expected these results given that health crisis has crippled most of our economic activities.”

    “The lockdown during the community quarantine from March to May has put the labor force in a standstill as two-thirds of the economy is shut down,” he added.

    For its part, labor group, Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO), assailed Bello for attempting to downplay the high unemployment rate in the country saying it shows the government’s penchant of faking reality.

    Last Friday, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) announced that the unemployment rate soared to 17.7 percent in April 2020.

    Comparatively, unemployment was only at 5.3 percent, or 2.4 million people, in January 2020; and 5.1 percent, or 2.3 million, in April 2019.