A SENATE BILL seeking to amend the PESO Act, which created a government office for job referrals, hopes to add facilitation services for aspiring entrepreneurs, with the creation of a cohort of self-employed workers intended to address high unemployment levels.

Senate Bill 7, refiled by Senator Lorna Regina B. Legarda, adds services for applicants seeking to start businesses. It proposes to amend Republic Act 8759 or the Public Employment Service Office (PESO) Act of 1999.

“Inarguably, entrepreneurs play a key role in creating job opportunities and consequently in stimulating the country’s economic growth,” she said in a statement on Wednesday.

The PESO Act created the Public Employment Service Office. If the amendment passes, this agency will be renamed the Public Employment and Entrepreneurship Service Office (PEESO), with Barangay Employment and Entrepreneurship Service Offices (BEESO) operating at the community level.

Unemployment hit a three-month high in May while job quality deteriorated despite increased economic activity, the Philippine Statistics Authority said.

Preliminary data from the statistics agency indicate that the jobless rate in May hit 6%, higher than the 5.7% posted in April but easing from the 7.7% rate in May last year.

Job quality deteriorated as the underemployment rate — the proportion of those already working but still looking for more work or longer working hours — rose to 14.5% in May from 14% in April. It was the highest underemployment rate since the 15.8% posted in March. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan