MANILA (Mabuhay) – Some 12.1 million Filipinos were jobless at the end of 2013, as unemployment rose to 27.5 percent in the last quarter of the year, according to a Social Weather Stations poll.
The SWS’s fourth quarter unemployment figures were six points higher than the 21.7 percent (9.6 million Filipinos jobless) in September.
The SWS also pointed out that the unemployment figures were the highest since August 2012, when it reached 29.4 percent.
The highest unemployment rate in the last 20 years was reached in February 2009 at 34.4 percent.
The Dec. 11-16 survey used face-to-face interviews of 1,550 adults nationwide. Sampling error margins of ±2.5% for national, ±4% for the Visayas and ±6% for Metro Manila, Balance Luzon and Mindanao percentages applied to the survey.
But Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said the SWS’s unemployment rate is always higher than the government’s records because the pollster uses a different methodology from the National Statistical Coordination Board.
“So parang hindi fair na mag-compare ka hindi siya apple to apple. Iba ang methodology, totally different,” Baldoz told reporters after the awarding of outstanding recruitment and manning agencies at the Palace on Monday.
She added that they have always been “guided” by the NSCB’s labor force survey which says that unemployment rate stands at 7.2 percent.
She also noted that there was significant improvement not in the quantity but in the quality of the jobs being produced in the country.
The SWS explained that it had a different definition of joblessness from that used by the government.
The SWS definition covers those who are 18 years and older, compared to the lower official boundary of 15.
Persons with jobs are those currently working, including unpaid family members.
Also, the SWS definition is based on two traditional qualifications: not working at present and looking for a job.
Those without a job but and are not looking for one, such as housewives and students, are excluded from the labor force.
The government’s definition of unemployed uses three concepts: not working, looking for work and available for work.
The government excludes those not available for work, even though they are looking for work.
Those available for work but not seeking it due to illness or are waiting for the results of a job interview are included in the government’s unemployed numbers.
Using the government’s definition, the SWS said the jobless rate among adults 18 years old and above would be 17.1 percent, or about 6.6 million Filipinos.
Causes of unemployment
The SWS poll found that of those who were unemplyed at end-2013:
13.5 percent resigned,
10.4 percent were retrenched, and
3.5 percent were first time job-seekers.
Adult joblessness “has been traditionally dominated by those who voluntarily left their old jobs and those who lost their jobs through economic circumstances beyond their control.”
The 13.5 percent who quit their jobs is an increase from the nine percent in September, while the number of first-time job seekers went down from 5 percent in September.
Of those who were retrenched, 6.8 percent did not have their contracts renewed, 1.6 percent had employers close shop, and 2 percent were laid off.
Those whose contracts were not renewed increased from 5 percent in September, and those whose employers closed shop and those who were laid off increased from 1 percent in September.
Geography, sex, age
Unemployment increased in nearly all regions, with more men finding themselves without work in the last quarter compared to September (21.2 percent, up from 13.4 percent). There was a similar ris with women (35.9 percent from 32.4 percent).
By age, joblessness was basically unchanged among those 18 to 24 years old, at 52.3 percent from 52.4 percent in September.
However, joblessness rose to 25 percent among those 35 to 44 years old, and went up to 33.1 percent from 24.6 percent for the 25 to 34 age group.
It rose to 17.7 percent from 14.2 percent among those aged 45 and above.
Despite the increased unemployment figures, optimism that work would become available this year rose to “fair” from “mediocre.”
The SWS poll said two of five Filipinos, or 40 percent of respondents said the jobs picture would improve, while 31 percent said it would stay the same and 21 percent said the availability of jobs would go down.
This translated to a net optimism score of +19, 15 points better than +4 in September.
These are the highest optimism numbers since November 2010, when it reached a “very high” +36. (MNS)