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Joblessness hits record high

WANTED: JOBS Hundreds of job seekers try their luck in a job fair at Manila City Hall on Labor Day, the same day the pollster Social Weather Stations released its latest survey that shows joblessness in the country has hit 23.9 percent, the highest level since December 2016. —MARIANNE BERMUDEZ

Malacañang on Tuesday said it was optimistic that the government’s “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program would generate more jobs, after the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) poll showed that joblessness in the country hit the highest level in five quarters in March.

According to the March 23-27 poll, the level of adult joblessness was 23.9 percent, or an estimated 10.9 million, up from 15.7 percent, or 7.2 million, last December.

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It was the highest joblessness level since December 2016, when it was 25.1 percent and just a point higher than March last year.

But presidential spokesperson Harry Roque noted that the poll, which was released on Tuesday, was taken during graduation season.

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“The present survey was conducted March 23 to 27, at a time when many students just finished their last semester in college and are expected to look for jobs, thus, an increase in adult joblessness,” Roque said.

“We remain optimistic that with the implementation of our Build, Build, Build Infrastructure Plan, we would be able to generate more job opportunities [for] our countrymen,” he said.

Job losses

The latest SWS survey found that the adult labor force participation rate declined by 0.7 percent to 71.4 percent, or an estimated 45.8 million, in March this year.

Among the jobless, 12.6 percent, or an estimated 5.8 million adults, resigned or voluntarily left their jobs, up from 8.3 percent, or 3.8 million, last December.

Those who were retrenched or involuntarily left their jobs numbered 3.5 million (7.7 percent), an increase of 5.9 percent from 2.7 million last December.

Of those who lost their jobs, 3.9 percent had contracts that were not renewed, 1.7 percent had employers who closed shop, and 2.2 percent were laid off.

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First-time job seekers who did not find jobs during the period numbered 1.6 million adults, or 3.5 percent.

Optimism down

Net optimism over the availability of jobs fell at the same time.

Of the 1,200 respondents, 49 percent expressed optimism that they would find jobs in the next 12 months, down from 53 percent in December, while those who said there would be fewer jobs stayed at 12 percent.

Twenty-five percent, up 1 percentage point from December, said there would be no change in their situation.

This resulted in a net optimism score (percent of more jobs minus percent of fewer jobs) of +37, down from +41 last December.

Joblessness rose in all areas except in Metro Manila, where it barely changed, from 19.5 percent last December to 19 percent in March.

Balance Luzon

It climbed the highest in Balance Luzon, from 16 percent to 28.1 percent, followed by Mindanao, from 13.2 percent to 20.8 percent, and in the Visayas, from 15.3 percent to 21.6 percent.

By gender, joblessness rose from 26.7 percent last December to 33.9 percent in March among women and from 7.6 percent to 16.1 percent among men.

Joblessness increased across age groups, from 45 percent to 53.1 percent among people aged 18 to 24 years; from 23.9 percent to 26.6 percent among those aged 25 to 34 years; from 10.7 percent to 17.4 percent among people aged 35 to 44 years; and from 8.5 percent to 17.4 percent among those aged 45 years and above.

The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. —With Inquirer Research

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TAGS: Harry Roque, Infrastructure projects, joblessness, SWS survey, Unemployment
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