MANILA - An estimated 12.2 million adult Filipinos were found jobless during the first quarter of the year as the COVID-19 pandemic lingered, a slight decrease from the previous quarter, a poll released on Thursday showed.
This means that 25.8 percent of the adult labor force are still without jobs, lower by 1.5 percent from the 27.3 percent or 12.7 million Filipinos recorded during the fourth quarter last year, according to the Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey results.
The latest figure, however, is still 8.3 percent higher compared to the 17.5 adult joblessness logged in December 2019, before the COVID-19 crisis hit the country, the pollster pointed out.
The figure includes people who left their jobs, still looking for work, and those who lost their jobs "due to economic circumstances beyond their control."
The non-commissioned survey, conducted between April 28 and May 2, showed the capital region and Balance Luzon posted a decline in terms of adult joblessness, but this rose in Visayas and Mindanao.
Those without jobs are highest in Metro Manila at 30.8 percent as of May, even if it improved by 7 percent from last quarter's 37.8 percent.
It is followed by the Visayas (28.7 percent from 19.1 percent), Balance Luzon (24.2 percent from 32.7 percent), and Mindanao (23 percent from 17 percent)
"The 1.5-point decline in the national joblessness rate was due to decreases of 9 points in Balance Luzon and 7 points in Metro Manila, offset by increases of 10 points in the Visayas and 6 points in Mindanao," the SWS explained.
The country's labor force participation rate, or the number of adults in the labor force, as of May this year was at 67 percent or 47.5 million Filipinos, based on the survey.
SWS interviewed 1,200 adults face to face during the period it was conducted.
It used a ±3 percent sampling error margin for national percentages and ±6% for Balance Luzon, Metro Manila, the Visayas, and Mindanao.
Last year, the Philippines suffered its worst economic contraction at 9.6 percent.
During the enforcement of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Luzon last year, the strictest quarantine level, unemployment in the country ballooned to 7.3 million, as the jobless rate rose to 17.7 percent in April, the Philippine Statistics Authority said.
The government already started inoculating economic frontliners to drive the economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has already infected more than 1.332 million Filipinos and so far killed over 23,000 in the country.