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Unemployment up -- SWS

Posted on February 23, 2012

ADULT UNEMPLOYMENT has increased, the Social Weather Stations (SWS) said in a new report, with some four-fifths accounted for by people who resigned or were retrenched.

The survey research institution said that based on a Dec. 3-7 survey last year, the proportion of adults without work had risen to 24% from 20.2% three months earlier -- equivalent to an estimated 9.7 million Filipinos.

Of this number 10% were retrenched, 9% had quit and 5% were first-time jobseekers. The majority, or 7%, of those retrenched did not have their contracts renewed, 2% saw their employers close shop and the remaining 1% received pink slips.

Malacañang pointed out that the SWS figures were not consistent with Labor Force Survey (LFS) data -- where some 2.1 million positions were found to have been created -- but also acknowledged the need to improve the jobs situation.

The official unemployment rate, according to the National Statistics Office (NSO), was 6.4% as of October last year.

In explaining its survey, the SWS said it counted respondents who were at least 18 years old. It also uses the traditional definition of unemployment as comprising those not working and at the same time looking for work. Those not working and also not looking for a job -- housewives, the retired, students, etc. -- are excluded.

The government, meanwhile, defines the lower limit of the labor force at 15 years of age. It has also defined unemployment as including the “availability for work” concept: those who are not available despite looking for work are not counted while those available but not seeking work for reasons such as tiredness, illness, waiting for rehire/results of an application and bad weather are added.

The SWS said unemployment had fallen below 20% in only three out of 26 surveys from May 2005 to December 2011. The figure hit a record high of 34.2% in February 2009.

It added that since December 2010, unemployment has been dominated by those who had quit work or had lost their jobs due to economic circumstances.

It said unemployment was relatively high among women and among the younger members of the labor force, following the pattern in previous surveys. Among men the ratio dipped to 15.2% from 17% previously, while it increased to 35.6% from 25.6% among women.

It rose to 49.1% from 46.3% in the 18-24 age group, was basically unchanged at 29.9% from 29.7% among those aged 25-34, increased to 18.7% from 13.7% for those in the 35-44 bracket, and also gained to 17.3% from 13.8% for the 44 and up category.

Sought for comment, Labor Secretary Rosalinda D. Baldoz said that the “government uses the National Statistics Office Labor Force Survey as official reference on data on employment and unemployment.”

She added that there was no basis for comparison between the SWS poll and LFS as the latter has a respondent base of 54,000 households against the former’s 1,200 individuals.

The 6.4% unemployment in the latest LFS survey is equivalent to an estimated 2.644 million Filipinos. The figure is down from 7.1% a year earlier.

Sec. Herminio B. Coloma, Jr. of the Presidential Communications and Operations Office, meanwhilem said that “regardless of the differences in methodology,” the government appreciated “the SWS’ efforts to bring to the surface greater awareness about the employment situation.”

“We will continue to work hard at increasing the pace and magnitude of new jobs creation.”

He said that given an estimated 700,000 new graduates annually, at least one million new jobs would have to be created each year to address the needs of both new entrants and unemployed members of the labor force.

For the Dec. 3-7 survey, the SWS utilized face-to-face interviews of 1,200 adults and sampling error margins of ±3% for national and ±6% for area percentages. -- from a report by J. P. D. Poblete