CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga, Nov. 27 (PIA) -- Unemployment rate in Central Luzon shows continuous decline as more businesses open up towards economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the second episode of the Dagyaw Central Luzon: The Open Government Virtual Town Hall Meeting 2020, National Economic and Development Authority OIC-Regional Director Agustin Mendoza said double digit unemployment rate in the region from 1991 to 2003 gradually dropped to a single digit until 2019.
"From 1991, it was still in double digits, until the year 2003 at 11 percent. It dropped gradually to single digit only until 2019. But due to COVID-19, the region's unemployment rate again doubled in July 2020, hitting 10.9 percent," Mendoza said.
However, he assured that double digit unemployment rate in the region is only temporary due to the disruptions caused by the pandemic.
"In April 2020, Central Luzon had one of the highest unemployment statistics at 27.3%. But as of July 2020, the region has one of the lowest unemployment rates at 10.9%. In our calculation, it may go down until the end of the current year and return to a single digit," Mendoza said.
In terms of labor statistics, Central Luzon has 4.55 million workers, while 550,000 individuals still need to find work through increased investment and the implementation of infrastructure and government programs.
This, he said, is where freeport and economic zones play a big role in the region's labor market.
"If we will combine the three large freeport and economic zones in Central Luzon, namely Clark Freeport with 136,418 workers; Subic Bay Freeport with 137,547; and Freeport Area of Bataan with 43,990, this translates to 7% of our regional employment. Thus, we can see that our economic zones contribute so much," the official said.
He added that these urban centers are crucial for the convergence of development initiatives by making cities compact.
"When this happens, there will be more economy subscale and at the same time we can slow down the pressure to convert agricultural lands," Mendoza explained.
He added that with this spatial strategy, the government will be able to fulfill its two objectives of urban economic development and enhancing the food security of the region.
"When we achieve those main objectives, the economy will grow even more and more jobs will be available in Central Luzon," Mendoza said.
Apart from the freeport and economic zones, there are still major capital and infrastructure projects in Central Luzon not only to grow the economy and improve logistics, but also to provide incremental or additional jobs.
"In the region, we have the Balog-Balog Dam, Clark International Airport New Passenger Terminal Building, New Clark City National Government Administrative Center, New Clark City Mixed-use Industrial Real Estate Development, New Clark City Food Processing Terminal and International Food Market, Philippine National Railways North 1 and 2, and Central Luzon Link Expressway Phase 1 and 2, among others. While these projects are ongoing, many additional jobs will be generated here in Central Luzon," he furthered. (CLJD/MJSC-PIA 3)