MANILA - Some 800,000 Filipinos are in danger of losing their jobs this year as the global economic slowdown hits the export sector, Economic Planning Secretary Ralph Recto said Monday.
"Roughly 800,000 are vulnerable to the global crisis," he told a news briefing at the presidential palace.
He said workers in the export sector, including in the key electronics industry, as well as Filipinos working in export-driven economies abroad, were most at risk.
Recto's figures are nearly triple initial projections made by Labour Secretary Marianito Roque last week, when he warned that 300,000 jobs could be lost in the Philippines amid the global crisis this year.
More than 15,000 workers have been laid off in the past two months, mostly in the electronics and garments sectors, while 19,000 others saw their work weeks shortened as exports plunged, according to government data.
Recto said it would be "tough" to meet the government's target of creating one million jobs a year in 2009, even assuming that the economy grew at 4.6 percent, as it did in 2008.
"Chances are you can probably create 500,000 jobs, so there's a deficiency," he added.
The 800,000 who are expected to be laid off this year would make for an even tougher job hunt for some 900,000 Filipinos who will be looking for a job for the first time, including those graduating from university and technical schools, Recto said.
He did not say what percentage of those expected to lose their jobs would be Filipinos laid off abroad.
Some 8.5 million Filipinos work or live abroad, sending some 15 billion dollars to their families back home in the 11 months to November 2008 according to central bank figures.