By Ian Nicolas P. Cigaral

THE RANKS of jobless Filipinos steadied around the 10 million mark in the second quarter from the preceding three months and from a year ago, according to a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey that nevertheless showed net optimism on job availability in the next 12 months improving to “very high” category.

The Second Quarter 2017 Social Weather Survey — conducted on June 23-26 via face-to-face interviews with 1,200 adults nationwide and with sampling error margins of ±3 points for national percentages — found adult joblessness at 22.2% (estimated 10.5 million adults), just 0.8 of a point below the 22.9% (estimated 10.4 million adults) recorded in March and 0.5 of a point more than June 2016’s 21.7% (10 million).

June’s survey put participation in the labor force — which SWS defined as those aged at least 18 years old and currently with a job, plus those without a job at present and looking for a job — at 74.7%, or an estimated 47.1 million adults, up 2.5 points from March’s 72.2%, or an estimated 45.5 million adults.

The SWS second-quarter joblessness rate consisted of: 12.1% or an estimated 5.7 million adults who voluntarily left their jobs that was 0.9 of a point more than March’s 11.2%; 6.1% or an estimated 2.9 million adults who lost their jobs due to economic circumstances beyond their control, slipping 2.5 points from the preceding quarter’s 8.6%; and 3.9% or an estimated 1.8 million adults who were first-time job seekers, compared to March’s 3.1%.

In terms of age group, joblessness fell by seven points among respondents aged at least 45-years-old to 9.9%, but rose in other age brackets: by 13.4 points to 60.8% among 18- to 24-year olds, by 2.3 points to 17% among 35- to 44-year olds and by 1.8 points to 31.7% among 25- to 34-year-old respondents.

The same survey also showed net optimism on job prospects in the next 12 months remaining “very high”.

Optimism that there will be more jobs edged two points up to 46% from 44%, the proportion of those who said there will be no change in job availability similarly inched two points up to 30% from 28%, while those who said there will be fewer jobs remained at 15%.

This lifted June’s net optimism on job availability score (% more jobs minus % fewer jobs) by two points to a “very high” +31 from March’s “high” +29.

The SWS classifies a net optimism score of at least +30 as “very high”; +20 to +29 as “high”; +10 to +19, “fair”; +1 to +9, “mediocre”; -9 to zero, “low”; as well as -10 and below as “very low”. It also considers movement from one classification to another as either an “upgrade” or “downgrade.”

Sought for comment, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto C. Abella said in a mobile phone message yesterday that the government expects “millions of jobs” to be generated in the next five years as a result of the state’s “Build, Build, Build” program that will see more than P8.4 trillion spent on infrastructure by the time President Rodrigo R. Duterte steps down in mid-2022.

“By setting in place an environment of law and order the Duterte administration allows unhampered infrastructure development leading to more economic activities especially in the countryside,” Mr. Abella said.10M still jobless but optimism ‘very high’