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One in four Filipinos live on dollar a day

MANILA, February 8, 2011 (AFP) – Poverty worsened in the Philippines over the past decade despite strong economic growth, with one in four people now living on a dollar a day or less, the government said Tuesday.

The rise came during the reign of former president Gloria Arroyo, who critics blame for not doing enough to help the nation’s poor.

A total of 23.14 million Filipinos scrape by on 46.14 pesos (1.04 dollars) a day or less, the National Statistical and Coordination Board said, citing the results of a 2009 nationwide survey.

This equates to 26.5 percent of the population, up slightly from 26.4 percent in 2006 and 24.9 percent in 2003, said the board’s secretary-general Romulo Virola.

The number of people living at or below the dollar-a-day threshold grew even though the economy expanded by an average of 4.7 percent annually over the past decade.

Growth peaked above 7.0 percent twice, in 2007 and last year, sandwiching poor years of 3.8 percent in 2008 and 0.9 percent in 2009 during the global crisis.

Critics of Gloria Arroyo, who ruled the country from 2001 to 2009, said the benefits of economic growth when she was in power went to the rich while the poor were left behind.

The new administration of Benigno Aquino has pledged to pursue economic growth that helps the poor.

Further highlighting the economic problems of the Philippines, the government said Tuesday the unemployment rate had jumped to 7.3 percent in January, with another 18.7 percent underemployed.

The jobless rate was 7.1 percent in October last year, when the last set of unemployment data was relea

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