MANILA - (UPDATE) Almost half of all Filipino adults, or around 27.3 million individuals, are jobless according to the Social Weather Stations’ national mobile phone survey conducted last July.
SWS said its survey, conducted from July 3 to 6, found adult joblessness at a record-high 45.5 percent of the adult labor force, as the COVID-19 crisis severely disrupted the economy.
“This is a 28-point increase from 17.5 percent in December 2019, and a new record-high since the 34.4 percent in March 2012,” SWS said.
In December 2019, SWS reported that 7.9 million Filipinos had no jobs. This means that since then, 19.4 million Filipinos have become unemployed.
The survey found that 21 percent of adult Filipinos lost their job/livelihood during the COVID-19 crisis. Another 21 percent lost their job/livelihood before the pandemic.
Millions lost their jobs as the Philippine economy shrank a record 16.5 percent in the second quarter, plunging the country into recession for the first time in nearly 30 years. This followed one of the longest and strictest lockdowns in the world to curb the spread of COVID-19.
In Metro Manila, which is the powerhouse of the Philippine economy, the jobless rate ballooned to 43.5 percent in July from just 15 percent in December last year.
The jobless rate also rose in the rest of Luzon to 45.2 percent last month from 17.3 percent in December 2019.
In the Visayas, the jobless rate jumped to 46.6 percent in July from 15.7 percent in December last year. It also rose in Mindanao, hitting 46.5 percent last month from 20.7 percent at the end of 2019.
The proportion of those who lost their job or livelihood during the COVID-19 crisis is slightly higher in urban areas at 23 percent than in rural areas, which is at 18 percent.
Almost 4 out of 5 Filipinos, or 79 percent, also said their quality-of-life got worse. This was in contrast to 12 percent who said their quality of life was unchanged, and only 8 percent who said life got better compared to a year ago.
Last month, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) also said that the unemployment rate hit a record 17.7 percent in April.
The SWS has said that its survey results differ significantly from the PSA’s because of “conceptual differences between SWS and PSA’s definitions of employment.”
While the SWS directly asks if the respondent has work at present, the PSA specifies a minimum of one hour of work to be counted as employed, the survey firm has said.
Combining the PSA’s unemployment and underemployment rate results in a figure that is closer to the SWS results.