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By Kathryn Mae P. Tubadeza

More Filipinos jobless last quarter

Posted on September 08, 2015

THE RANKS of those who found themselves jobless grew last quarter, the Social Weather Stations (SWS) said in a new report -- a development one analyst blamed on the economy’s failure to keep up with the increase in number of those seeking work.

Results of the June 5-8 survey -- with sampling error margins of ±3% for national percentages and ±6% each for Metro Manila, “Balance Luzon,” the Visayas, and Mindanao -- among 1,200 adults nationwide found joblessness rate at 23.2%, equivalent to an estimated 10.5 million Filipinos, 4.1 points more than the first quarter’s 19.1% or an estimated nine million adults.

Net optimism on job availability -- the difference between those expecting more jobs in the next 12 months and those who see less (% more jobs minus % fewer jobs) -- eroded three points to a “fair” +17 from March’s “high” +20.

Thirty-six percent (from 38% in the first quarter) of respondents said the number of job openings in the next 12 months will rise, 33% (from 31%) said it would stay the same and 19% (from 18%) said there would be fewer jobs.

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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.”

Sought for comment, Rene E. Ofreneo, director of the Center for Labor Justice at the University of the Philippines School of Labor and Industrial Relations, said in a telephone interview that the growth in ranks of the jobless may be due to the muted expansion of sectors that can absorb them. He cited the inability of the economy to create enough new jobs to accommodate more than a million that join the country’s labor force every year.

Latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority show gross domestic product growth slowing considerably to 5.6% last quarter from 6.7% in 2014’s comparable three months -- even if faster than the first quarter’s downward-revised 5.0% -- as agriculture, hunting, forestry and fishing actually contracted by 0.5% compared to a 3.4% expansion the past year, while industry -- including manufacturing that is deemed to have the biggest job generation potential -- slowed to 6.1% from 9.1%. Under industry, manufacturing growth slowed to 4.6% from 11.1%, though construction doubled to 14.6% from 7.2%.

However, growth of services -- the economy’s mainstay that includes a vibrant business process outsourcing sector -- picked up to 6.2% from 5.9%.

Sought for comment, Malacañang said the government remains committed to creating more jobs meant for bulk of the population.

“Government continues to address the unemployment problem by creating more job opportunities from the growth and expansion of the economy, intensified vocational and technical training, and focusing on priority sectors such as agriculture, infrastructure and tourism,” Communications Secretary Herminio B. Coloma Jr. said in an e-mail.

“We note that while the reported joblessness rate has increased, optimism about job openings has remained relatively high.”

SWS noted that jobless ranks in the September report consisted of those who:

• resigned (11% or an estimated 4.7 million adults, from March’s 7%);

• were retrenched or whose employers shuttered operation (10% or an estimated 4.4 million adults from March’s 8%). The 10% who were retrenched consisted of 6% whose previous contracts were not renewed, 2% whose employers closed operations and 2% who were laid off;

• were first-time job-seekers (3% or an estimated 1.3 million adults, from March’s 4%).

Joblessness among women was recorded at 31.3% in June, up 3.7 points from 27.6% in March. Among men, 16.9% were jobless, up from 12.2% previously.

By age group, joblessness rate among those aged at least 45 years old was 11%, up from the first quarter’s 8%. Among those aged 35-44 years old, 20% said they were jobless, from 16%; and in the 25-34 bracket, 29% from 28%. Among those aged 18-24 years old, 55% said they were jobless, from 50% previously.