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70,000 people jobless in Caraga region

At least 70,000 out of Caraga region’s total labor force of 1.045 million are jobless and only 21,000 of them are looking for employment either in the locality or overseas, a report released by the region’s labor and employment office here, said. The region’s economic planners fear more people will lose jobs this year as several big companies, particularly in the mining industry, have reduced their workforce.

Arnie Tangpos, planning officer of Caraga region’s Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) , said the region has a total labor force of 1.045 million with 979,000.
Tangpos added that unemployed persons would now reach 66,000 and this number does not even include those who were retrenched from their work due to the global financial crisis.

According to the National Statistic Office (NSO) here, some 21,000 unemployed persons are “looking” for work through job search in the region. It said that some 1,000 job seekers are registered in private employment agencies while other 1,000 are in public employment offices.

The NSO noted that 7,000 jobs seekers approached directly their prospective employers while 10,000 approached relatives of their friends who have jobs while another 1,000 responded to job advertisements.

Carmencita Cochingco, regional director for the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), earlier said that some 7,000 workers lost their jobs in the first quarter of this year. She said most of the retrenched workers were coming from Chinese-financed mining companies that opted to slow down their operations due to low market price of their products.

Records at the DOLE regional office here show that 23 mining companies, five agro-based plantations, three wood-based industry and two business establishments have opted to slow down their operation and retrenched workers.

Based on the DOLE’s May 2009 report, the DOLE has recorded a total of 3,444 workers who were dismissed from their jobs while the other 2,225 workers were on “flexible work arrangement”. The report added that a total 5,669 overseas’ workers from the two provinces of Agusan and two Surigao had also lost their jobs.

Tangpos, however, said “there’s a brighter spot” in the labor force since most mining firms affected by the global financial crisis have signified to re-hire a total 2,529 employees and open 839 new placements.

Caraga’s Mines and Geo-sciences Bureau (MGB) said 23 medium and large scale mining companies are operating in the region. Of these, eight are in Surigao del Norte, six in Dinagat province, five in Surigao del Sur, four in Agusan del Norte and one in Agusan del Sur, the Philsaga Mining Corporation which is operating a small scale gold mining.

The MGB report said that the mining industry in the region employed a total of 9,291workers in 2008. It said that the government revenue collection, however, dropped to P865 billion in 2008 from P1, 241 billion in 2007.

The region is the largest exporter of minerals in Mindanao, with Japan, China and Australia as its main markets.

In a related development, Aurora Zaportiza, chief of Butuan City’s public employment service office, said some 14 overseas recruitment agencies and local companies participated in the recent ”Mega Jobs Fair” which registered a total of 1,352 applicants.

She said at least 43 applicants were hired on the spot while 1,005 were waiting for further interview and 23 others were qualified to the position they applied for.

Zaportiza added that the TESDA Caraga Regional Office is set to conduct a “Jobs Bridging and Skills Re-training” Caravan on May 29. (Alden Pantaleon/MindaNews/Business Mirror)

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