Budget Chief: More jobs will make higher prices tolerable

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Benjamin Diokno. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 5) — Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said an uptrend in the country's employment rate would make higher prices of goods more tolerable to Filipino consumers.

"That's good. People I think will be more tolerant if they have jobs, tolerant of rising prices if they have jobs rather than being jobless," Diokno told reporters Wednesday.

The employment rate in July was estimated at 94.6 percent, up from 94.4 percent in July 2017,  according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). 

But it also reported the rate of price increase for basic goods and services reached a nine-year high of 6.4 percent this August.

Diokno said the higher job rate was linked to the "Build, Build, Build" program of the Duterte administration.

"In April.. I think we created something like 600,000 plus. And a big chunk of that is construction workers. So we know that with our 'Build, Build, Build' going full blast, we're going to create a lot of jobs," Diokno explained.

Among the regions with low employment are Ilocos Region (93.5 percent), Central Luzon (93.7 percent), CALABARZON (93.7 percent), Bicol Region (93.7 percent), and National Capital Region (93.9 percent).

The PSA's Labor Force Survey, however, also showed underemployment — or the number of full-time workers who seek additional hours of work — increased to 17.2 percent or an estimated 7 million workers in July 2018. That is up from 16.3 percent or about 6.5 million underemployed workers in July last year.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said government should focus on creating jobs.

"In order to meet our employment targets, government should provide an environment that is conducive to creating more and better jobs. It should prioritize policies and programs that address the issues of unutilized youth, unemployed youth, underemployment, and vulnerable workers," Pernia said in a statement Wednesday.

CNN Philippines' Ina Andolong contributed to this report.