The Impact of the Asian Crisis on Labor, Work and Employment

  • Jude Esguerra


The Asian crisis has done more than keep Filipinos from spending unwisely. If the region-wide recession was no longer sufficient proof of how bad things are, one should consider the facts kept hidden in unemployment figures. The official line maintains that the Philippine economy is in good shape, good enough to significantly bring down 1998 first quarter unemployment figures into impressive second quarter ones. What is not made plain is that the number of unemployed Filipinos looking for work did not include those who were retrenched (but still optimistic) and those who had given up on the shrinking job market. In truth, the crisis did more than just downsize the workforce, it has also exposed the shortcomings of President Joseph Estrada's government and the Central Bank in handling the effects of the crisis. On vital fiscal policies the administration appears to be at odds with itself. Not assured of sound or sustainable investment conditions and consumer demand, businesses are left with very little prospect of reopening their factories and shops until the region recovers from the crisis. This makes for an economic disaster that hits labor where it hurts.