THE poverty survey, conducted every three years with the next one due in 2021, is likely to reflect a “temporary” uptick in urban poor, who were disproportionately affected by the pandemic, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua said.

Mr. Chua told a Senate budget hearing that the projected range in 2021 for the poverty rate, which is known in official government statistics as poverty incidence, is 15.5% to 17.5%, indicating the possibility of a slight drop compared with the 2018 level of 16.7%.

He noted that before the pandemic, the government was projecting poverty rates to drop to about 14%.

“Our estimate right now is that it can go from 15.5 to 17.5%,” Mr. Chua said.

Poverty is measured every three years with the next assessment scheduled in 2021, he said.

Mr. Chua said the impact on the livelihood of the rural poor was not as severe.

“We might see a temporary worsening in the urban poverty where the pandemic and COVID and quarantine have affected their livelihood,” he said.

He said the government continues to address poverty by providing subsidies to low-income families.

“So hope that with the progress we’re making in the next two years we can still be on track to achieve the 14% or lower poverty incidence,” he said.

The unemployment rate rose to 17% in April during the height of the lockdown and fell to around 10% in July as lockdown measures eased, Mr. Chua said.

He added that the normal average unemployment rate is about 5% and NEDA (National Economic and Development Authority) projects the recovery to bring the rate to around 6 to 8% next year.

“So long as we continue relaxing the quarantine levels, the economy actually responds very quickly,” he said.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte kept Metro Manila, Bulacan, Batangas, and the cities of Tacloban and Bacolod under general community quarantine until Sept. 30.

Iligan City is under a stricter form lockdown while the rest of the country is observing modified general community quarantine. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas