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Jobless Filipinos hit 12.1M

SWS: Unemployment rate rose to 27.5% in Q4
/ 03:05 AM February 11, 2014

AFP FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—The number of unemployed Filipinos in the last quarter of 2013 swelled to more than 12 million, making the 7.2-percent growth in the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) last year, considered the second-fastest after China, far from inclusive.

The unemployment rate rose to 27.5 percent, or an estimated 12.1 million individuals, as 2.5 million Filipinos joined the ranks of the jobless between September and December, a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey found.

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The level of joblessness across the country was almost 6 points higher than the 21.7 percent (some 9.6 million) in the previous quarter, results of the SWS survey conducted from Dec. 11 to 16 showed. The results were first published in BusinessWorld.

Nikka Policarpio, 19, who graduated from the University of Santo Tomas last year with a degree in journalism, is among the millions of unemployed.

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Nearly a year after college, Policarpio is already in between jobs since she left her first job last month as a marketing communications specialist.

“I have been applying at different media companies for less than a month now… I want to take a rest before I start working again,” said Policarpio, who resigned from her nine-month stint with a cosmetics company because the low compensation did not match the heavy workload.

The high unemployment rate despite the high GDP growth may have contributed to the pessimistic outlook of Filipinos last December.

A survey by another polling outfit, Pulse Asia, found that 55 percent of Filipinos felt the national quality of life deteriorated in the past 12 months. They also expected the situation to remain the same for the whole of 2014.

‘Understandable’

Malacañang on Monday described as “understandable” the findings of the SWS survey.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda pointed to calamities that hit the country last year to help “explain” why unemployment rate increased to 27.5 percent at the end of 2013.

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Lacierda cited Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan), which devastated central Philippines last November, and the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that hit Bohol and Cebu provinces a month earlier.

According to the Geneva-based International Organization for Migration, some 6 million workers saw their livelihood destroyed or disrupted as a result of Yolanda.

Lacierda said the siege of Zamboanga City by Nur Misuari’s followers “also disrupted” economic activity in the area.

“Certainly, it’s very unfortunate that these things happened, but we have to rise up. That is the role of government: to provide for its people,” he said.

‘Bloodied but unbowed’

“We were bloodied but unbowed,” Lacierda added, borrowing the words of William Ernest Henley’s poem, “Invictus.”

Despite the increase in the unemployment rate, Lacierda said the government would “continue to ensure that our people find employment.”

The latest jobless rate, however, was below the 34.4 percent posted in March 2012.

The unemployment rate has mostly remained over 20 percent since May 2005, according to SWS. It was under 15 percent from 1993 to March 2004, and was within 16.5 percent to 19 percent from August 2004 to March 2005.

Different definitions

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.

This is different from the official definition in the Labor Force Survey (LFS), which covers persons 15 years and over who are reported not working, looking for work and available for work.

The government’s latest LFS put the official unemployment rate at 6.5 percent (about 2.6 million Filipinos) as of October 2013.

The SWS survey also found that 40 percent of respondents believed there would be more jobs in the next 12 months, 31 percent claimed the number of available jobs would remain the same, while 21 percent expected fewer jobs.

Unemployment picked up sharply among men (from 13.4 percent to 21.2 percent) but remained higher among women (from 32.4 percent to 35.9 percent).

Highest among 18-24

Across age groups, joblessness remained highest among those 18-24 years old (52.3 percent). It was 33.1 percent in the 25-34 age bracket, 25 percent in the 35-44 age bracket and 17.7 percent among those 45 years old and older.

The nationwide unemployment included those who were retrenched (10.4 percent), resigned from their jobs (13.5 percent), and first-time job seekers (3.5 percent).

‘Endo’

Of those retrenched, 6.8 percent did not have their contracts renewed (also called “endo” or end of contract, usually after six months so that the workers won’t be regularized and the employer won’t pay benefits), 1.6 percent had employers whose businesses ceased operations and 2 percent were laid off.

The survey, which used face-to-face interviews with 1,550 Filipinos, had a margin of error of plus-or-minus 2.5 percentage points.—Reports from Rafael L. Antonio and Kathleen de Villa, Inquirer Research; and Christian V. Esguerra

Originally posted: 6:14 pm | Monday, February 10th, 2014

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