Joblessness in the country worsened in the first quarter of the year, the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey found, with an economist tracing the rise in unemployment rate to fresh graduates joining the labor pool.
Filipino adults without jobs numbered 11.1 million, up 10 percent from the 10.1 million recorded at the end of 2012, results of the survey that SWS conducted from March 19 to 22 showed.
The nationwide survey used 1,200 face-to-face interviews and had a margin of error of plus-or-minus three percentage points.
SWS said the unemployment rate rose to 25.4 percent in the first three months of the year from the 24.6 percent last December.
“The first quarter unemployment rate particularly in March is high. It becomes a problem if it will persist beyond the first quarter. This means that GDP growth cannot generate employment which means jobless growth,” Cid L. Terosa of the University of Asia and the Pacific said in a text message.
The unemployed included those who had resigned from their jobs (12 percent), had been retrenched (8 percent), or those joining the throngs of job-seekers for the first time (5 percent, rounded off).
Of those retrenched, 6 percent did not have their contracts renewed.
Christmas temporary jobs
Malacañang said the rise in unemployment rate from December to March was due to “temporary jobs” created during the Christmas season.
“Normally, you will have temporary jobs for December. That’s seasonal… So, we get many seasonal jobs for that,” said presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda at a briefing in the Palace.
But he said the government was creating jobs in three areas: tourism, agriculture and infrastructure.
Asked if the growing number of unemployed Filipinos was not worrisome to the administration, Lacierda said: “We want to make sure that we have more jobs for our people. That’s a thrust and a commitment from this government to our Filipino people.”
Since May 2005, the unemployment rate has been more than 20 percent except for three instances—19.9 percent in March 2006, 17.5 percent in December 2007 and 18.9 percent in September 2010, SWS data showed.
The SWS definition of unemployment covers respondents aged 18 and above who are “without a job at present and looking for a job.” This excludes those not looking for work such as housewives, students and retired or disabled persons.
The definition is different from the official definition in the Labor Force Survey (LFS), which includes persons 15 years and over and who are reported “not working, looking for work and available.”
The government’s latest LFS puts the level of unemployment in the country at 7.1 percent in January or equivalent to 2.89 million, up from 6.8 percent or 2.76 million in October 2012.
Amid the higher unemployment rate, SWS said 34 percent of the respondents expected that there would be more jobs in the next 12 months. Twenty-one percent expected fewer jobs and 28 percent believed the number of available jobs would remain the same.
Unemployment among women barely moved (from 35.7 to 35.4 percent) while it picked up among men (from 15.3 percent to 17.3 percent).
By age group, joblessness was highest among those in the 18-24 age group (from 47.6 percent to 49.6 percent) followed by the 25-34 bracket (from 32.8 percent to 31.8 percent), the 35-44 group (from 20 percent to 23 percent) and the 45 and up (from 15.5 percent to 15.8 percent). Reports from Ana Roa, Inquirer Research and Michael Lim Ubac