By Henry Empeño, September 11 2019; Business Mirror

Image Credit to Business Mirror

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT—The total active work force in this premier economic zone swelled back to more than 135,000, just six months after the closure of the Hanjin shipyard here early this year that caused a massive manpower cutback.

Figures from the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) showed a total of 135,224 workers employed in the Subic Bay Freeport in the first half of 2019, compared to 133,940 in the same period last year.

SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma said the steady growth in investment projects in Subic has spurred a corresponding increase in new jobs.

“We’re back to more than P135,000 active workers now, which is just a shade lower than our 2018 year-end record of 135,690,” Eisma said. “But by the end of this year, we are confident that we would again break this 2018 employment record.”

As of July this year, the most number of workers were employed in the services sector with a total of 92,453 workers or 68.37 percent among the 2,765 companies engaged in providing services. In June 2018 the record was 76,652 workers (57.23 percent) among 2,470 companies.

The manufacturing sector comes next with 23,031 employees (17.03 percent) working for 88 companies here in the first half. Last year, there were 18,197 employees (13.59 percent) among the 85 firms in this sector.

Meanwhile, the construction sector posted 11,729 workers (8.67 percent) among the 199 companies, compared to 10,868 employees (8.115 percent) working for 185 companies last year.

Eisma noted that the rehabilitation of various infrastructure facilities inside the free port, including roads, had significantly increased the number of workers hired by construction companies here.

On the other hand, Eisma reported a 450-percent drop in the number of employees working in shipbuilding and marine-related services after the South Korean shipbuilder Hanjin Heavy Industries & Construction Philippines Inc., formerly the single biggest employer in Subic, filed for bankruptcy in January.

SBMA records indicated a total of 5,901 workers (4.36 percent) hired by 96 firms in the shipbuilding and maritime sector in the first half of 2019, compared to 26,559 (19.83 percent) hired by 110 companies in 2018.

The massive layoffs at Hanjin—more than 7,000 workers in December 2018 and another 3,000 in the first quarter this year—significantly reduced employment in the maritime sector here.

One sector that showed positive gain in the first half of 2019 was that of domestic helpers and caretakers employed at residences in the free port. This increased to a total of 2,110 workers (1.57 percent) from a total of 1,664 in the same period last year.

SBMA data also showed that there are more male employees in the Subic work force today, with a total of 91,190 (67.44 percent) compared to 44,034 females (32.56 percent).

However, the females are catching up, considering that there were just 39,079 female workers (29.18 percent) in Subic last year, compared to 94,861 (70.82 percent) males.

Source of labor

Among the sources of manpower, Olongapo City remained to be the biggest provider in the first half of 2019 with a total of 59,107 workers (43.71 percent), followed by Zambales with 28,855 (21.34 percent); Bataan, 18,501 (13.68 percent); National Capital Region, 4,642 (3.43 percent); Pampanga, 3,574 (2.64 percent); and Tarlac, 1,679 (1.24 percent). Other areas contributed a total of 18,866 workers, or 13.95 percent.

Eisma said the SBMA expects a continuing growth in employment generation with the 45 new investments and 21 expansion projects the agency approved in the first six months this year.

The new investment commitments worth more than P5 billion are projected to generate close to 4,000 new jobs, Eisma added.