Monday, October 8, 2012

Looking through one's lens

MY several readings on macroeconomics of labor markets reveal one reality, that is, the need for more studies that will address basically all sectors of the society. For instance, the study conducted by Sergiy Stetsenko of the University of Pennsylvania (2010) shows the change in behavior of fertility rate at business cycle frequencies in the United States between the 1970s and 1990s and it further shows how the cyclical and secular properties of fertility can be used to distinguish among several proposed theories that account for the rise in labor force participation of married mothers. Another study by Marion Warmuth (2007) deals with managing the aging work force and it discusses the challenges arising from it. It shows that the prejudices and discrimination attached to older employees such as being resistant to new approaches or new technologies and being less productive can be managed through changing the mindset of employers and the company culture. It also supports findings of a survey of a research institute that elderly are able to manage difficult situations through their routine and experience and up-to-date knowledge and education. So what is the bottom line? What I want to put across in this article is the realization that while it is true that the National Statistics Office is periodically conducting the Labor Force Survey, there is a corresponding need for researchers - be it from the corporate world or the academe- to use the NSO data as take-off point for further studies. It is not enough to obtain LFS data that gives number of employed, unemployed , or underemployed, it is also vital to see through one's lens the perspectives and consequences of a given situation and given set of data through research. What is this Labor Force Survey (LFS) ? The LFS aims to provide a quantitative framework for the preparation of plans and formulation of policies affecting the labor market. Specifically, the survey is designed to provide statistics on levels and trends of employment, unemployment and underemployment for the country, as a whole, and for each of the administrative regions, including provinces and key cities.The LFS has undergone changes in its questionnaire design starting in July 1987 where modifications in the concepts and definitions for measuring labor force and employment characteristics were adopted. The design is based on a past week reference period and new concept of availability and looking for work is adopted. With regard the concept, the Labor Force or Economically Active Population refers to population 15 years old and over who are either employed or unemployed. On the other hand, Persons Not in the Labor Force are those persons who are not looking for work because of reasons such as housekeeping ,schooling, etc. Examples are housewives, students, disabled or retired persons. For most part, statistics have been limited to the socio-economic data at the national level. It is very evident though that there is the need for information at the local level. In this regard, the LFS sample design has been drawn in such a way that accurate lower level classification would be possible. How are we going to look at the inputs of the LFS? For more effective application, it is preferable to look at the latest results- the July 2012 Labor Force Survey (LFS), which can be easily compared with the July 2011 data. Translating this set of data into figures, we would be looking at an estimated 63.1 million population aged 15 years and over with an employment rate of 93.0 per cent (almost the same with the 92.9 percent in July 2011), unemployment rate of 7.0 percent and an underemployment rate of 22.7 per cent. Among the unemployed persons, there were more males (62.1%) than females (37.9%). Majority (51.2%) of the unemployed persons belong to age group 15-24 years. Looking at the regional data, Cagayan Valley recorded the highest employment rate of 96.8 percent, followed by MIMAROPA and Zamboanga Peninsula (95.9% each). The lowest employment rate was recorded in National Capital Region (NCR) with 90.1 percent. It is interesting to know that those who worked in the services sector comprised the largest proportion, which posted more than half or 53.3 percent of the estimated employed persons. Equally interesting is the fact that those engaged in wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles comprised the highest percentage (18.6% of total employed). Those engaged in agriculture sector was recorded the second largest group which accounted for 30.9 percent of the total employed. Only 16.0 percent of the total employed consisted of workers in the industry sector, with the manufacturing (8.5% of the total employed) and construction (6.1% of the total employed) sub-sectors having the highest proportions. Education experts may be interested in looking into this information.With regard the highest grade completed, one-third (33.3%) of the unemployed persons were high school graduates, 13.9 percent were college undergraduates, while 19.2 percent were college graduates. Indeed, both business and academe can gain more insights by investigating further through research that will certainly address their most urgent need.

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