Over 1M Filipino youth may be jobless this year due to pandemic – report

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A young applicant tries her luck at a job fair in this 2018 photo.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 18) — Up to a million Filipino youth are at risk of going jobless this year due to the pandemic if lockdown rules stretch on, a joint report of the Asian Development Bank and the International Labour Organization said.

The two development groups said youth employment in the Philippines and the rest of Asia-Pacific is "severely challenged," reeling from community quarantine measures which have paralyzed the global economy.

Estimates show at least 687,000 Filipino youth to as many as 1.019 million may be rendered jobless by the pandemic. The lower forecast assumes infections are controlled in three months, while more layoffs are expected if it takes six months to manage the situation using various containment measures, including movement restrictions.

The Philippines is on its fifth month of community quarantine, with cases now close to 170,000 — the highest in Southeast Asia.

The job loss projections are also based on ADB's assumption of a 3.8 percent contraction of the local economy — a drop that's likely to be steeper following a 16.5 percent fall in the second quarter.

RELATED: Recovery of job losses due to pandemic may take until 2022 – ADB

"In the Philippines, three of the four main sectors where youth found work were in the high-impact category: wholesale and retail trade (23 percent), accommodation and food services (11 percent) and manufacturing (10 percent)," the report titled Tackling the COVID-19 youth employment crisis in Asia and the Pacific read.

By sector, one-fifth of youth job losses will come from the hotel and restaurant segment, followed by retail trade and agriculture. Travel and tourism have been restricted since mid-March following the first local transmission of the coronavirus. They are slowly being reopened in provinces with low risk of contagion.

RELATED: Recovery of job losses due to pandemic may take until 2022 – ADB

Young workers between ages 15 to 24 are especially vulnerable as the COVID-19 crisis disrupts businesses, with the youth deemed the first option for layoffs given the relative lack of experience. Those who are not yet working are affected too, the study said, as students struggle to complete their studies under distance learning and find it hard to transition to the workforce as internships have also been halted.

The group's projections, if realized, will double the youth unemployment rate of 6.8 percent in 2019. The ceiling could leave one in every five youth workers unemployed. Still, this is relatively lower compared to the rest of the region, with Sri Lanka (37.8 percent), Fiji (36.8 percent), and India (32.5 percent) seen worse off.

"The fall in youth employment will be affected by the last-in-first-out process, in which young workers (hired more recently and with less job protection) are likely to lose work at a faster rate than adults," it said.

Across Asia Pacific, youth joblessness could peak at 14.8 million in 2020 if countries take six months to contain local outbreaks, with longer lockdowns seen translating to more layoffs.

RELATED: About 10 million Filipinos likely to be jobless due to the COVID-19 crisis – DSWD

ADB and ILO suggest wage subsidies and public employment programs, as well as to keep students on continuing learning so that future disruptions are avoided as well. Skills trainings would likewise help the youth return to the job market.

Providing a stimulus to ailing companies would also boost hiring, especially in badly hit industries, they added.

A recent survey by the Social Weather Stations pegged overall joblessness at 45.5 percent in July, or about 27.3 million Filipino adults — those aged 18 and older. Malacañang spokesman Harry Roque said he was glad the data didn't shoot up to 100 percent, saying it could be worse as the economy continues to reel from strict stay-at-home protocols.

The government reported that 7.3 million Filipinos were unemployed as of April.