The Social Weather Stations (SWS) released its survey today conducted from July 3-6 that that found adult joblessness at a record-high 45.5% of the adult labor force. The joblessness rate surveyed is highest since the Fidel Ramos administration or in almost 30 years, the highest in all areas (Luzon since 2012, Visayas since 2007, and Mindanao since 2012), the highest among women and men (since 2019) and the highest among urban (since 2009) and rural areas (since 2012).

The special SWS July 3-6, 2020 National Mobile Phone Survey found adult joblessness increase by 28 points from 17.5% in December 2019, and 12.2 points up from the 33.3% in March 2020.

The current adult joblessness rate is also 11.1% higher than the previous record-high of 34.4% in March 2012.

The estimated numbers of jobless adults were 27.3 million in July 2020 and 7.9 million in December 2019.

SWS defines the Labor Force as adults (18 years and above) presently with a job plus those looking for a job. The Labor Force Participation Rate is the proportion of adults in the labor force.

Adults who are jobless consists of those who (a) voluntarily left their old jobs, (b) are seeking jobs for the first time, or (c) lost their jobs due to economic circumstances beyond their control.

Half of those who are jobless said they lost their job/livelihood during the COVID-19 crisis, while the other half lost their job/livelihood before the crisis.

The proportion of those who lost their job/livelihood during the COVID-19 crisis is slightly higher in urban areas (23%) than in rural areas (18%). It is highest in Balance Luzon (23%), followed by the Visayas (19%), Mindanao (19%), and Metro Manila (18%).

The youth (15-24 yo as per UN; 15-30 in the Philippines) are among the worst-hit or most jobless. Adult joblessness rose among the 18-24 year-olds, up by 31 points from 31.8% in December 2019 to 63.4% in July 2020. It rose among the 25-34 year-olds, up by 28 points from 20.7% in December 2019 to 48.8% in July 2020. The SWS said that like in past surveys, the 18-24 year-olds are the most jobless compared to other age groups.

 

Source: SWS

Department of Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello III refuted the SWS survey findings as “not actual joblessness” and the agency has recorded only 3.3 million who lost their jobs during the COVID-19 crisis.

“Iyan ay ‘di actual joblessness. Ano pa lang ‘yan survey. Kami ang aming record ay ang mga nagreport sa aming employers na either nagsara o nagsara temporarily, o kaya ay nagbawas ng trabaho o manggagawa,” said Bello.

[That is not actual joblessness. That is just a survey. Our record is from employers who reported closure, temporary closure or those who let go some functions or workers.]

The April 2020 Labor Force Survey of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) released on June 5 reported 7.3 million unemployed and 6.4 million underemployed. Research group IBON pointed out then that the real unemployment rate is likely around 22% and the real number of unemployed around 14 million, but the PSA reported lower because of changed definition of unemployment. Since the methodology for counting the unemployed was revised in April 2005, jobless Filipinos who did not look for work in the last six months or are unable to immediately take up work are no longer considered unemployed and removed from the labor force.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said it is no surprise that unemployment rose and he is ‘delighted’ there was only 45% who are jobless and not 100%.

“Ako po’y nagagalak na hindi tayo 100% nawalan ng trabaho kasi sa tagal po na nakalockdown tayo, I’m still surprised at our resilience, at 45 % pa lang po ang nawawalan ng trabaho. It could have been worse kasi nga po complete lockdown ang nangyayari sa atin,” said Roque.

[I am delighted that not 100% lost their jobs because of the extended period we were on lockdown, I am still surprised at our resilience and that only 45% lost their jobs. It could have been worse because what we have here is complete lockdown.]

Labor alliance Kilusang Mayo Uno called on Duterte to ‘do something’ with the joblessness problem in the country. The group slammed the administration for being inutile, a failure and lacking sense of urgency amid the crisis.

“Gusto ko lang paalalahanan ang pangulo na may papalakas na panawagan para sa pagpapatalsik sa kanya sa pwesto,” said KMU secretary general Jerome Adonis in a statement.

[I would like to remind the president that there is a growing call for his removal from office.]

Netizens also hit Roque’s statement, who they said have consistently downplayed the records the country has been breaking such as highest total cases in Southeast Asia and lowest growth rate drop among others, by comparing other aspects of government pandemic response with other countries or saying other countries are suffering the same.

‘Roque’ and ‘45% pa lang’ became trending topics in Twitter following Roque’s press briefing.

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