Friday, July 22, 2005

RP's Unemployed

 Posted by Yvonne Chua 

TWO surveys on employment were recently released—and their findings hardly jibe.

According to the Social Weather Survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations for the second quarter of this year, unemployment among Filipino adults reached a new record high of 20.3 percent last May.

The April 2005 Labor Force Survey of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), on the other hand, placed the unemployment rate at 8.3 percent and the number of jobless Filipinos at 2.9 million for the month of April.

The disparity stems largely from how the SWS and the government define and measure unemployment.

The SWS continues to define the unemployed as those who report that they are (1) not working and (2) also looking for workGovernment, however, has revised the official definition of the unemployed to include a third criterion: those available for work. 

The new definition, which took effect starting the April 2005 Labor Force Survey, effectively excluded 1.9 million persons from the ranks of the jobless in the Philippines. Under the old definition, the unemployment rate would have stood at 12.9 percent and not 8.3 percent.

Another difference between the two surveys: The SWS statistics on employment and unemployment refer to the population of adults, or those 18 and above, which is different from the official Philippine labor force definition which starts at age 15.

According to DOLE, even under the old definition, the unemployment rate declined from 13.7 percent in April 2004 to 12.9 percent of April this year.

The SWS survey, meanwhile,  said that adult unemployment in the Philippines has been extremely high for four successive quarters, starting from 19 percent in the third quarter of 2004, 18.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2004, and 16.5 percent in the first quarter of 2005.

"These are the only times when adult unemployment has been above 15 percent, ever since the SWS unemployment statistical series started in 1993," the SWS said.

The research outfit added that current high levels of unemployment are consistent with the high levels of hunger and poverty reported by the Social Weather Surveys in successive quarters.