Self-rated poverty worsens in Q3 amid inflation pressures

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SOCIAL WEATHER STATIONS (SWS), a polling organization, said Tuesday that more than 12.2 million families self-rated themselves as poor, equivalent to 52% of respondents in a study conducted at the end of September, up from 48% a quarter earlier.

According to the Third Quarter 2018 Social Weather Survey, respondents who declared themselves poor was “the second consecutive increase in Self-Rated Poverty (SRP) in 2018. Since the 42% recorded in March 2018, Self-Rated Poverty has increased by 10 points in total.”

SWS also reported that the September 2018 self-rated poverty rate was the highest since December 2014, where the level was also 52%.

SWS said that of the 52% self-rated poor families, “8% used to be non-poor 1-4 years ago (“newly poor”), and 6% used to be non-poor five or more years ago (“usually poor”). The remaining 39%, or about three out of four poor families, have never experienced being non-poor (“always poor”).”

SWS reported that the rise to 52% was attributed to the “sharp increases in Balance Luzon and Mindanao, offset by a sharp decrease in Metro Manila and an unchanged proportion in the Visayas.”

For Balance Luzon, SRP rose 12 percentage points to 47% in the September quarter from 35% in the June quarter. In Mindanao, there was also an increase in SRP of 5 percentage points to 65% from 60% previously. Visayas remained unchanged at 67% in both periods.

On the other hand, SRP declined by 17 points in Metro Manila to 26% in the September quarter from 43% in the June survey, with SWS calling it “a new record low for Metro Manila, overtaking the previous record low of 28% recorded in December 2000, June 2017, and December 2017.”

The survey also showed that among the 48% self-rated non-poor families, 10% used to be poor less than four years ago or are “newly non-poor” while 13% were formerly poor more than five years ago or are “usually non-poor.” On the other hand, 25% consider themselves “always non-poor.”

SWS said that the median Self-Rated Poverty Threshold (SRPT)is monthly income of P10,000, which is the minimum a family needs in order to pay for its expenses and not consider itself as poor. In the September survey, the Self-Rated Poverty Gap was P5,000, meaning this is the amount families lack in order to pay for their needs.

The September median SRPT for Metro Manila and Balance Luzon was P15,000 but for Mindanao and Visayas, it was P10,000.

Meanwhile, Self-Rated Food Poverty rose during the September study to 8.5 million families.

“The September 2018 survey also found 36% (est. 8.5 million) of families rating their food as Mahirap or Poor, termed by SWS as Food-Poor. This is 2 points above the 34% (est. 7.8 million) in June 2018,” SWS said.

The median Self-Rated Food Poverty Threshold (SRFPT), or the minimum monthly budget a family needs in food expenses, in Metro Manila is P7,250. For Balance Luzon, the SRFPT is P6,000 while it is at P5,000 for both the Visayas and Mindanao.

SWS added that the median Self-Rated Food Poverty Gap (SRFPG) or how much families lack to cover their food expenses is P3,000 in Metro Manila, Balance Luzon, and Mindanao. For the Visayas it is P2,500.

The non-commissioned survey had 1,500 participants nationwide and was conducted on Sept. 15-23.

In a statement, the Office of the Presidential Spokesperson said it is concerned over the results of the SWS survey, adding that the September Inflation Rate of 6.7% as reported by the Philippines Statistics Authority (PSA) is one of the factors behind the study’s findings.

“Government has thus implemented measures to cushion the impact of inflation and bring food on the table of poor families,” it added.

Federation of Free Workers (FFW) Assistant Vice-President Julius H. Cainglet concurred about inflation affecting the perception of poverty, saying in a message to reporters: “I think the survey is reflective of the actual conditions we find ourselves into, particularly as a direct effect of the rising inflation and the TRAIN Law.” He was referring to the tax reform law that took effect at the start of the year, which is known as Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN).

Associated Labor Unions — Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) Spokesperson Alan A. Tanjusay also said in a message to reporters: “The self-rated poverty result is a strong message that the sweeping worsening poverty is expanding from the indigents, the unemployed, the underemployed, the informal economy workers, the minimum wage earners, and towards the middle-income families.” — Gillian M. Cortez