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Remittances rise as Filipinos fill job openings

Between 1948 and 2012, the U.S. unemployment rate has averaged 5.8 percent, a number that suggests many people have been able to find work. In more recent years, however, that number has skyrocketed, as since January 2009, the nation's unemployment rate has been at or above 8 percent.

Despite this, companies continue to seek individuals who can adequately fill open positions. And if a recent remittance flow report is any indication of who's being hired, these people are often Filipino.

According to Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, thanks to Filipinos taking advantage of job openings, money being sent home by Filipinos living and working abroad rose by 5.3 percent in April, amounting to $1.7 billion versus $1.6 billion worth of money transferred to the Philippines in the same month last year.

"Remittance flows were sustained by the steady demand for Filipino workers abroad," the Philippines' central bank asserted in its report.

While the numbers released by BSP clearly indicate that many Filipino workers are already in the workforce, data gathered from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration suggests many more workers are still waiting in the wings. BSP reported based on the POEA's figures that more than 85,000 hired workers were awaiting deployment, a stark rise of just under 17 percent from 72,941 last year over the same January-to-February period. Of these positions Filipino workers were hired for, most were in the service, professional, technical and production fields.

Not only are more Filipinos being hired, but there are also more financial services firms being opened that deal with remittances and money transfers, BSP reported. This provides a partial explanation for the increased inflows of overseas remittances.

"To date, there are about 4,732 bank branches, correspondent banks, remittance centers, tie-ups/agents providing remittance services compared to 4,575 entities in the same period last year," the BSP indicated in its report.

The central bank also detailed the types of remittances that have been sent through the first four months of the year. About $6.5 billion was in the form of cash while $5 billion was in bulk. Bulk chiefly came from overseas Filipino workers whose jobs were on land while $1.5 billion was from sea-based workers.

Not surprisingly, the countries fromwhich remittances chiefly came from largely mirrored where OFWs worked in. This included the United States, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Italy, Germany and Hong Kong. In a separate report conducted by the National Statistics Office, most of these countries were dominated by OFWs in 2011 as well.

As noted by Business World Online, the BSP included additional data in April's remittance report, which involved non-cash items that were transferred or brought overseas by Filipinos to their families. These personal items – most of which were material goods – were valued at $1.8 billion, up from $1.7 billion in Aprill 2011.

Read more from E. Asia, Money Transfer

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