EIGHT of 10 Filipinos said they became worse off in the past 12 months, a record number, as the country battles a coronavirus pandemic, according to a Social Weather Stations poll (SWS).

In a statement on Thursday, SWS said 83% of Filipinos said their quality of life worsened, 6% said it improved, while 10% said it was unchanged.

This resulted in an “extremely low” net score of -78 from a “very high” +18 in December, the pollster said. It was the worst figure since the “low” -50 in June 2008, it added.

“The 83% proportion of losers in May 2020 is a new peak in the 37-year series of 135 SWS surveys, breaking the previous record 62% losers in June 2008,” it said. “The 6% proportion of gainers is a new all-time low, breaking the previous record 9% gainers in July 1985,” it added.

The number of Filipinos who said they were worse off was the highest in the Visayas, which had a net score of -82, followed by Mindanao at -80, Metro Manila at -77 and the rest of Luzon at -75.

The net gainer score was equally bad in areas under strict lockdown or enhanced community quarantine and general quarantine at -77 and –78, SWS said.

SWS interviewed 4,010 working-age Filipinos on May 4 to 10 for the poll, which had an error margin of ±2 points, it said.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte locked down the entire island of Luzon in mid-March, suspending work, classes and public transportation to contain the pandemic. People should stay home except to buy food and other basic goods, he said.

At the time, areas under strict lockdown were Metro Manila, Central Luzon (except Aurora), Calabarzon region, Benguet, Pangasinan, Iloilo, Cebu and the cities of Bacolod and Davao. All other areas were under a more relaxed general quarantine.

The negative May score was a break from the positive trend in the past five years, SWS said. Of the 20 observations between March 2015 and December 2019, 19 were positive. “Notably, this already accounts for 90% of all positive scores recorded by SWS,” it said.

The poll found that less educated people, those who lost their jobs or experienced a pay cut, and families who got hungry were more likely to feel they were worse off, SWS said.

By educational attainment, the net gainer score was lowest among people who reached elementary school at –89, followed by elementary graduates at –82, junior high school graduates at –78 and college graduates at –65, according to the poll.

An SWS poll last month also found that 4.2 million Filipino families got hungry during the lockdown, nearly double the 2.1 million families in December. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas