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Joblessness down, but still above pre-pandemic levels – SWS

The Philippine Star
Joblessness down, but still above pre-pandemic levels â SWS
Individuals wear face masks along the streets of Manila on May 9, 2023.
STAR / Edd Gumban

MANILA, Philippines — An estimated 8.7 million Filipinos were jobless in the first quarter of the year, according to a survey conducted by Social Weather Stations (SWS).

The results of the March 26 to 29 survey released on Wednesday night found that the adult joblessness rate was at 19 percent of the adult labor force, which is estimated to be at 45.9 million.

While down from 21.3 percent and 26 percent obtained in a similar survey in December and April 2022, respectively, SWS noted that the latest joblessness rate was still 1.5 points above the 17.5 percent in December 2019, a few months before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Data showed that joblessness reached a “catastrophic” level of 45.5 percent in July 2020 before generally going on a downward trend in the following years. It reached as low as 18.6 percent in October 2022.

SWS’ adult joblessness rate consists of adults who voluntarily left their old jobs, those who lost their jobs due to economic circumstances beyond their control and those seeking jobs for the first time.

Historically, results of the SWS survey on joblessness are higher than the combined unemployment and underemployment rates released by the government through the Labor Force Survey conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

The PSA’s combined unemployment and underemployment rate was at 17.1 percent as of February 2022.

“Given the differences between SWS and PSA’s definitions of employment (e.g., age range, reference period, etc.), there has been an understandably large discrepancy between PSA’s Unemployment rate and SWS’s Joblessness rate,” the polling firm said.

“For example, SWS directly asks if the respondent has work at present, whereas PSA specifies a minimum of one hour of work to be counted as employed. The leniency of this requirement made it very easy to be officially categorized as employed,” it added.

Down in most areas

Compared to December 2022, SWS said joblessness dropped across all areas, except in Mindanao where it slightly increased.

It was highest among respondents in balance Luzon at 21.7 percent (from 23.1 percent), followed by those in Mindanao at 19 percent (from 18.1 percent), Metro Manila at 17.5 percent (from 23.1 percent) and the Visayas at 13.5 percent (from 18.6 percent).

Joblessness fell in rural areas (from 21.2 percent to 14 percent), while it hardly moved among respondents in urban areas (from 21.3 percent to 21.6 percent).

By gender, joblessness fell among men (from 15.2 percent to 11 percent), while it stayed high among women (from 29.7 percent to 30.2 percent).

In terms of educational attainment, joblessness was highest among junior high school graduates at 23.3 percent (from 22.6 percent), followed by elementary graduates at 17.8 percent (from 19.9 percent), non-elementary graduates at 11.6 percent (from 15.9 percent) and college graduates at 10.5 percent (from 22.9 percent).

The survey had 1,200 adult respondents with a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percent for national percentages.

SWS

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