Adult joblessness eases down to 27.3 percent — SWS
MANILA, Philippines — Adult joblessness in the country eased to 27.3 percent in November 2020 as the economy started to gradually open up despite the Covid-19 pandemic, a survey by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) showed on Monday.
According to the SWS, the 27.3 joblessness rate of about 12.7 million Filipinos was recorded from a survey conducted from November 21 to 25.
In comparison, the highest unemployment rate recorded under President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration is a 25.1 percent last December 2016.
These high unemployment rates in December 2016 eventually tapered down to 22.2 percent and 15.7 percent by March 2017 and December 2017, respectively. And before the Covid-19 pandemic, the SWS recorded the unemployment rate at 17.5 percent in December 2019.
In addition, the SWS also recorded the highest average unemployment rate since the research firm started analyzing these figures, currently sitting at 37.4 percent. This is also attributed to the record-breaking numbers obtained last July, where 45.5 percent of adult Filipinos turned jobless due to the pandemic.
In September, joblessness rates also decreased but remained at a high level of 39.5 percent.
“The national Social Weather Survey of November 21-25, 2020, found adult joblessness at 27.3% of the adult labor force. This is down by 12 points from the 39.5% in September 2020,” the SWS said.
“The estimated numbers of jobless adults are 12.7 million in November 2020 and 23.7 million in September 2020. Joblessness was 17.5% in December 2019, the last measurement before the Covid-19 crisis began,” it added. “The resulting average joblessness rate for 2020 is a record-high 37.4%. The previous record was a 28.8% average in 2012. The average in 2019 was 19.8%.”
Much of the lower numbers were attributed to sharp decreases in unemployment over Visayas and Mindanao, which went down by 33 points and 23 points, respectively. In contrast, Metro Manila’s numbers fell by just two points and one point for Balance Luzon.
Joblessness also fell regardless of gender, although more women are still jobless as the rate decreased from 51.1 percent in September to 34.1 percent, while unemployment for men went down from 29.0 percent to 22.2 percent.
“Adult joblessness fell in rural areas, from 39.9% in September 2020 to 24.9% in November 2020,” SWS said. “It also fell in urban areas, from 38.5% in September 2020 to 29.8% in November 2020.”
“Adult joblessness hardly varies by locale, with the urban-rural joblessness gap reaching double-digit in only 9 out of 107 surveys since September 1993,” it added.
The Covid-19 pandemic remains to be the top reason for the high adult joblessness numbers, as the health crisis forced non-essential businesses to either suspend operations or close permanently.
With over two months of hard lockdowns for Luzon and other areas, a lot of people— especially those relying on daily wages and earnings — were left without any income aside from government cash assistance.
President Rodrigo Duterte admitted in his Monday public address that the country’s economy is sinking deeper and deeper, although he clarified that other countries are in a slump too.
The SWS survey comes after the government announced that the Philippines had the worst economic contraction recorded, as the gross domestic product (GDP) shrank by 9.5 percent — the highest since World War II.
The SWS said that these results came from the fourth-quarter survey, which was the first SWS study during the pandemic which was conducted using face-to-face interviews of 1,500 adults.
The respondents were divided according to population figures: 600 from Balance Luzon, and 300 each from locales of Metro Manila, Visayas, and Mindanao. SWS maintains sampling error margins are ±2.5% for national percentages, ±4% for Balance Luzon, and ±6% for Metro Manila, the Visayas, and Mindanao.
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