Joblessness in Philippines little changed

August 18, 2014

THE COUNTRY’S joblessness situation among adults was little changed last quarter while optimism on availability of work in the next 12 months even eroded, according to the latest survey of the Social Weather Stations (SWS).

Results of a June 27-30 survey with 1,200 adults nationwide recorded a joblessness rate at 25.9%, equivalent to an estimated 11.8 million adults, up marginally from the 25.7% (est. 11.5 million) recorded in the first quarter.The SWS said adult joblessness has been above 20% since May 2005, except when it was 19.9% in March 2006, 17.5% in December 2007 and 18.9% in September 2010.

It noted that in the SWS data series — which began in 1993 — SWS joblessness was below 15% until March 2004. It ranged from 16.5% to 19% from August 2004 to March 2005, and has since then stayed above 20%.

The record high in the 20 years that the SWS has been conducting the survey is 34.2%, hit in February 2009.

At the same time, optimism on job availability fell by 10 points to a “mediocre” +3 (% more jobs minus % fewer jobs) from the “fair” +13 recorded in the first quarter.

Thirty two percent (from 36% in the first quarter) of respondents said the number of available jobs in the next 12 months will increase, 29% (from 32%) said it would stay the same and 28% (from 23%) believe the number of positions available would decrease.

Communications Secretary Herminio B. Coloma Jr., said Malacañang remains committed to job creation. “The government continues to pursue job creation strategies that will provide more highly remunerative employment,” he said in an e-mail.

A political analyst, meanwhile, said “job absorption remain a problem” in the country.

Adult joblessness in the latest survey was broken down into those who voluntarily left their old jobs (13.2%, up 1.8 points from March), were retrenched (8.8%, down 1.9 points), and first-time job seekers (3.6%, barely changed from 3.3%).

Broken down further, those retrenched consisted of 6.3% whose contracts were not renewed, 1% whose employers ended operations and 1.5% who were laid off.

“Adult joblessness has traditionally been dominated by those who voluntarily left their old jobs and who lost their jobs due to economic circumstances beyond their control,” SWS noted.

By gender, SWS said joblessness among women rose by 2.1 points to 39.9%, the highest since the 42.5% recorded in August 2012, while joblessness among men fell 1.8 points to 14.7%, the lowest since the 14.3% recorded in June 2011.

By age group, joblessness “rose sharply” by 19.4 points among the youth — or those 18-24 years old — to 62.8% in the second quarter, the highest since the 63.3% recorded in June 2008, SWS said. Joblessness was also up among those aged 25-34, by 4.7 points to 35.2%, the highest since the 45.4% recorded in March 2012. It was down among those aged 35-44 by 12.6 points to 12.9% in June, the lowest since the 11.5% in September 2010, and “hardly changed” among those aged 45 and above at 16.7% in the second quarter from the 16.5% in the first quarter.

Asked about their expectations for the next 12 months, respondents who said there will be more jobs fell four points to 32%, those who said there will be fewer openings rose five points to 28%, while those who said there will be no change in job availability fell three points to 29%.

Asked to comment on the survey findings, political analyst Ramon C. Casiple said: “It reflects the slowing down of GDP (gross domestic product) growth, the entry of new graduates into the labor market, and the instability of OFW (overseas Filipino worker) key markets in the Middle East and Africa.”

“The expected labor opportunities from FDI (foreign direct investment), PPP (public-private partnerships) and tourism are not yet being felt, while mining, agriculture and manufacturing have not significantly improved their job absorption.”

SWS’ definition of joblessness differs from the government’s unemployment measure. SWS respondents are at least 18 years old compared to the government’s minimum age of 15. Moreover, for SWS, persons with jobs are those currently working, including unpaid family members.

Joblessness, the SWS added, is based on two traditional qualifications: without a job at present and looking for a job. Hence, those not working but not looking for a job — such as housewives, retirees and students — are excluded.

The government’s Labor Force Survey, on the other hand, uses three criteria to identify the unemployed, namely: not working, looking for work and available for work. Hence, those not available for work — even though they were looking for a job — are excluded, while those available for work but were not seeking it (for reasons like illness or waiting for results of a job application) are included.

Applying the government’s availability criteria, SWS said joblessness among adults in the second quarter was 15.2%, equivalent to an estimated 6.1 million Filipinos.

The June survey had sampling error margins of ±3% for national percentages as well as ±6% for Metro Manila, “Balance Luzon,” Visayas and Mindanao. — I.C.C. Delavin

By I.C.C. Delavin
August 17, 2014 
Business World
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