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Arroyo says 41,000 Philippine jobs lost to crisis

world Updated: Mar 24, 2009 14:53 IST
Arroyo says 41

At least 41,000 people in the Philippines have lost their jobs amid the global downturn, President Gloria Arroyo said on Tuesday.

The number includes overseas-based contract workers sent home from recession-hit host economies as well as employees in local factories reeling from slumping global demand, she said in an interview on government radio.

The total was up 6,000 from figures released by the labour department earlier this month.

Arroyo said the updated total included "some expatriate workers who came back from Dubai and Qatar, as well as those retrenched from export-oriented industries" in the Philippines.

"Two-thirds of the world is in recession. So far the Philippines is not in recession and we want to ensure we are not dragged down there," she said.

The government's focus is on "creating or saving jobs as well as to keep inflation down," she said.

The January 2009 jobless rate stood at 7.7 per cent or 2.855 million, up 0.3 percentage points or 180,000 from a year earlier.

Manila will continue to put into effect "targetted subsidies to the poorest Filipinos" so they will have access to cheap rice and transportation.

While government agencies have been ordered to "tighten belts and live within our means," Arroyo stressed "we will not lay off (government workers), even those filling up redundant positions."

The government earlier reported that nine million Filipinos, a tenth of the total population, were either underemployed or looking for jobs, and Arroyo said the number was set to increase soon with the end of the school year.

As part of cost-saving measures, Arroyo said she has cancelled the annual June 12 Independence Day parade in Manila.

"We will not spend 30 million pesos (about $625,000) for the parade, instead we will host a three-day jobs fair," she added.

The government started counting job losses from the crisis in October 2008.