THE jobless rate was slashed in the first quarter but 10.4 million Filipinos remained unemployed, according to a survey released by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) on Monday as the country marked its first Labor Day under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Results of the March 25 to 28 survey, first published by BusinessWorld, showed that 22.9 percent of adult Filipinos were “jobless,” down 2.2 percentage points from 25.1 percent or an estimated 11.2 million adults in December.
SWS defines joblessness as those without a job and are looking for a job. Of the 10.4 million unemployed Filipinos, 11.2 percent or 5.1 million adults voluntarily left their jobs, down a percentage point from 12.2 percent or 5.5 million adults in December.
Moreover, 8.6 percent or 3.9 million Filipino adults lost their jobs because of economic circumstances beyond their control. The proportion barely changed from 8.7 percent or an estimated 3.9 million adults in December.
An estimated 1.4 million or 3.1 percent were first-time job seekers, lower compared with 4.3 percent or an estimated 1.9 million in December.
The SWS said 45.5 million adults were in the labor force, or a labor force participation of 72.2 percent, hardly changed from 72.1 percent or an estimated 44.8 million adults in December.
SWS said 44 percent of respondents were optimistic there would be more jobs in the next 12 months, down by 4 percentage points from 48 percent in December. Those who said otherwise edged up to 15 percent, and 27 percent said there would be no change in the availability of jobs.
This yielded a “high” +29 net optimism on job availability in March, down 8 percentage points and one grade lower from the “very high” +37 recorded in December, which was a record high.
In the SWS scale, a score of at least 20 classifies as high and ratings above 29 are deemed “very high.”
In a statement, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said the SWS jobless score in March was “an affirmation of the significant strides of the Duterte administration in sustaining the country’s robust economic growth and making it inclusive.”
More Filipinos are expected to be employed as the administration builds P8.4 trillion worth of new roads, railways and bridges, he said.
“The government’s increased investments in infrastructure will usher in the ‘Golden Age of Infrastructure’ through our ‘Build-Build-Build’ campaign, which is expected to employ millions of Filipinos in the next five years and spur economic activities by stimulating countryside development,” Abella said.
“The new roads, bridges and railways would make the flow of commodities and services cost- and time-efficient, thereby expanding the domestic economy,” he added.
The SWS interviewed 1,200 adults nationwide. The poll had a sampling error margin of ±3 percentage points.