BAGUIO CITY – The Cordillera office of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA-CAR) predicted a robust economic growth in the region for the coming years following an increase in the region’s Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP) for the third year in a row, registering a 3.6 percent increase in 2015 which is much higher than the 3.3 percent improvement recorded in 2014 but much lower than the 5.4 percent growth in 2013.
Milagros A. Rimando, NEDA-CAR regional director and vice chair of the Regional Development Council (RDC) in the Cordillera, explained the region’s gross output is estimated at P133.49 billion for 2015, an indication of the expected robust growth in the economy once the various sectors will significantly grow in the coming years.
“While we are successful in growing the economy, we have always made sure that such growth must be inclusive and at least in 2015 we have succeeded,” Rimando stressed.
The NEDA-CAR official revealed employment levels increased along with an improvement in quality with regional employment rate etching up to 92.5 percent from 94.5 percent a year ago.
On the other hand, she added, the regional unemployment rate dropped to 4.8 percent from 5.5 percent in 2014 which means an additional 18,000 persons were employed with all sectors recording increases in their respective levels.
Rimando said the industry sector led in job increase with 7,000 generated jobs; services followed with 5,000 additional jobs and agriculture with 4,000 more jobs.
According to her, there was also an improvement in the quality of jobs with an additional 26,000 workers earning wages and salaries and a reduction of about 6,000 classified as unpaid family workers.
She emphasized the region remains challenged in sustaining economic growth, especially in lifting the agriculture sectors from stagnation as the sector has not grown; in fact, it is in a state of decline, thus, its contribution to regional growth has been pared down to about 9.5 percent compared to 10.9 percent in 2010.
While the region has money to reduce the unemployment rate, Rimando admitted the unemployment rate was at its highest at 20.8 percent last year since unemployed persons include all employed persons who express the desire to have additional hours of work in their present job, additional job, or to have a new job with longer working hours.
She emphasized the most probable answer to the question why do so many of those who are employed want more is that they are not actually earning enough, thus, the region remains challenged to continue providing quality jobs for the labour force.
On the industry and services sectors, she disclosed higher Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) investments in the electronic sectors was recorded, exports from the region’s micro, small and medium enterprises increased substantially while tourist arrivals are on the rise. On the agriculture and fisheries sector, the region continued to dominate in vegetable production with strong potential for corn, heirloom rice, fruits and coffee production.