9.1 million Pinoys remain unemployed – SWS

Ghio Ong, Helen Flores - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – With barely four months left for the Aquino administration, around 9.1 million Filipinos remain unemployed, according to the latest survey of the Social Weather Stations (SWS).

The SWS poll, taken from Dec. 5 to 8, found 21.4 percent or an estimated 9.1 million Filipinos without jobs.

The country’s latest unemployment rate, however, is lower by 2.2 points from 23.7 percent or about 10 million adults in September 2015.

The 21.9 percent average for the entire 2015 was also the lowest since 2004’s 15.8 percent annual average, the SWS noted.

The unemployed Filipinos in the December 2015 poll consisted of those who resigned or left their jobs voluntarily (9.6 percent or an estimated 4.1 million adults from September’s 8.4 percent), were retrenched (eight percent or an estimated 3.4 million from September’s 11.7 percent), or were first-time jobseekers (3.6 percent or an estimated 1.5 million adults, unchanged from September).

The eight percent who were retrenched consisted of 5.2 percent whose previous contracts were not renewed, 1.6 percent who were laid off and 1.3 percent whose employers ceased operations.

SWS said joblessness among men fell by 2.1 points to 13.8 percent in December, while it declined by 2.5 points to 31.4 percent among women.

Unemployment among those aged 35-44 years barely changed at 22.2 percent in December from 21.7 percent in the previous survey.

It dipped by 5.8 points to 25 percent among 25-34 year olds.

However, joblessness among those aged 18-24 years old increased by 5.7 points to 56.9 percent from September’s 51.1 percent.

It also rose among those aged at least 45 years old by 1.6 points to 15.3 percent.

The results of the SWS fourth quarter survey on the country’s unemployment rate were published in the newspaper BusinessWorld yesterday.

 Jobs optimism

 The latest survey also showed 45 percent of Filipinos foresee more job openings in the next 12 months, 27 percent said it would stay the same and 16 percent said there would be fewer jobs.

These figures resulted in a net optimism on job availability score of “high” 29, higher by 16 points and a grade up from the “fair” 13 in September last year.

The SWS describes as “very high” a net optimism score of 30 and above; 20 to 29 as “high”; 10 to 19, “fair”; 1 to 9, “mediocre”; -9 to zero, “low”; and -10 and below as “very low.”

SWS explained that its definition of joblessness differs from that used by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

SWS respondents are at least 18 years old compared to the lower official boundary of 15 years of age used by the PSA.

The survey research firm defines joblessness based on two traditional criteria: without a job at present and looking for a job. Those who are not working but not looking for a job – like housewives, students, as well as those retired and disabled – are excluded.

The PSA’s Labor Force Survey, on the other hand, defines the unemployed using three concepts: not working, looking for work and available for work.

Using the government’s definition, joblessness among adults as of December was 14.4 percent or equivalent to 5.6 million adults, the SWS said.

The SWS survey used face-to-face interviews of 1,200 adults nationwide and has sampling error margins of plus or minus three percentage points for national percentages.

Collective progress

Malacañang, for its part, said the latest statistics show that roughly 900,000 Filipino adults found employment within the last quarter.

“This latest news again affirms our collective progress under daang matuwid (straight path),” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.

“Over the past five and a half years, the Aquino administration has made significant strides not only in terms of economic growth but also toward greater inclusivity,” he added. – With Delon Porcalla

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