10.4M Filipinos still jobless, optimism dips: SWS

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 01 2017 09:00 AM | Updated as of May 01 2017 10:24 AM

Job applicants wait in line at a shopping mall in Manila, early October 2016. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA (UPDATED) - About 10.4 million Filipinos remain jobless in the first quarter of 2017, according to an opinion poll released as the country marked its first Labor Day under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.

The same survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) from March 25 to 28 also recorded a lower net optimism on the availability of jobs.

According to the poll publicized Monday, 22.9 percent of 1,200 adults nationwide were jobless, 2.2 points below the 25.1 percent or estimated 11.2 million jobless adults recorded in a December 2016 poll.

SWS' definition of joblessness covers those who do not have a job at present and are looking for a job. It excludes unemployed individuals who are not looking for jobs, such as housewives and students.

The latest joblessness rate consisted of:

- 11.2 percent or 5.1 million adults who voluntarily left their jobs;
- 8.6 percent or 3.9 million adults who lost their jobs due to economic circumstances beyond their control; and
- 3.1 percent or 1.4 million adults who were first-time job seekers.

The March survey put adult labor force participation rate at 72.2 percent (45.5 million adults), hardly changed from December’s 72.1 percent or (44.8 million adults).

LOWER OPTIMISM

The poll also showed a lower -- though still "high" -- net optimism on job prospects.

Those who are optimistic that there will be more jobs in the next 12 months fell to 44 percent in March from December's 48 percent. Those who said otherwise edged up to 15 percent from 12 percent.

This yielded a “high” +29 net optimism job availability score, which is the difference of those who believed in more jobs and less jobs.

The latest job optimism score was 8 points and one grade lower than the record “very high” +37 logged last December.

In the SWS scale, a score of at least 20 classifies as high while ratings above 29 are deemed "very high."

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella meanwhile said the 2.2-percentage point decrease in joblessness is "an affirmation of the significant strides of the Duterte administration in sustaining the country’s robust economic growth and making it inclusive."

Millions of Filipinos, he added, are expected to be employed in next 5 years through the administration plan to build P8.4 trillion in new roads, railways and bridges.

SWS' latest survey on joblessness was first published on BusinessWorld and had a sampling error margin of ±3 points.