RP Remains Sluggish in Labor Productivity

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Byline: HERN P. ZENAROSA

LABOR productivity in Southeast Asia has become stagnant compared to the rest of Asia and lags far behind that of the developed world, the International Labor Organization (ILO) said in a recent report.

What's worrisome is that the Philippines has been identified as among the world's productivity laggards.

This is made evident in the report, "Key Indicators of the Labor Markets," that found productivity, measured in output per employed person in Southeast Asia has an average annual increase of only 1.6 percent between 1996 and 2006.

The same report showed that Singapore is the most productive country among the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN with its $ 47,975 of value added by each person employed by Malaysia's $ 22,112, Thailand's $ 13,915, Indonesia's $ 9,022 and the Philippines' 7,271.

As the figures indicate, the Philippines comes out as the most laggard among the original ASEAN members that now include Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar.

This, despite current reports that say the country is experiencing what the National Economic and Development Authority called its "longest economic growth streak." The fact is, notwithstanding such streak, it has failed to generate enough jobs to drastically reduce the ranks of the country's poor.

The ADB report published yesterday revealed that about 14 percent of the Philippines' 87 million population live on less than $ 1 a day.

"To fight poverty we must create jobs and we're lagging (our targets)," Dennis Arroyo of NEDA's national planning and policy office, said.

By comparison, East Asia's workers now produce twice as much as they did some ten years ago, the highest productivity increase in the world, according to the ILO report. …