THE Social Weather Stations (SWS) polling organization reported that 38% of Filipinos rated themselves as poor in a March survey, the lowest in the history of the survey and down from 50% in December 2018.

The SWS estimated in a report Wednesday that extrapolating from the survey sample, 9.5 million families rated themselves poor, down from the December projection of 11.6 million families.

“The new record-low Self-Rated Poverty score is a continuing recovery from the 10-point rise within the first three quarters of 2018. The proportion of Self-Rated Poor families rose from 42% in March 2018, to 48% in June 2018, and 52% in September 2018. It subsided by 2 points to 50% in December and fell to 38% in March 2019,” SWS said.

The non-commissioned survey was conducted on March 28-31, polling 1,440 adults nationwide.

SWS also reported that the Self-Rated Poverty Threshold (SRPT) or the average monthly budget needed by families in order to be considered not poor is P10,000. The Self-Rated Poverty Gap (SRGP) — the degree to which respondents fall below the threshold — averaged P5,000.

SWS also said record numbers of respondents who believed they were poor at some point have become “non-poor.” “The March 2019 survey found that of the 62% Self-Rated Non-Poor families, a record-high 15% used to be poor 1-4 years ago (‘newly non-poor’), and a record-high 20% used to be poor five or more years ago (‘usually non-poor’). The remaining 26% have never experienced poverty (‘always non-poor’).”

Some 6% of respondents rated themselves newly poor and 6% usually poor, while 26% said they have never experienced being not poor.

Self-Rated Poverty (SRP) fell across all regions. Balance Luzon fell the most, by 16 points, to 35% in March from 51% in December. This was followed by Mindanao, where SRP fell to 35% from 51%, and then the Visayas, which fell to 55% from 61%. Metro Manila saw the smallest decline to 28% from 30%.

SWS also found that Food Poverty also declined nationwide, with 27% or 6.8 million families considering themselves as “Food-Poor.”

“This is 7 points below the 34% (est. 7.9 million) in December 2018, and 2 points below the previous record-low of 29%,” SWS said.

The Self-Rated Food Poverty Gap (SRFPG) average per region — how much families lack in food budget — was P7,000 in Metro Manila, P6,000 in Balance Luzon, P5,000 in the Visayas, and P5,000 in Mindanao.

“Compared to December 2018, the latest SRFPTG figure was unchanged in all areas, except in Balance Luzon where it fell by P1,000,” SWS added.

The President’s Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said in a statement on Wednesday, “Poverty reduction efforts, particularly those designed for the lowest rung of society, remain on track. We aim to reduce poverty from 21.6% in 2015 to 14% in 2022, which is equivalent to lifting about 6 million Filipinos out of poverty by the end of the President’s term. And we will grind daily to reach this goal.” — Gillian M. Cortez