Jobless rate up at 22.3% in 2016 – SWS

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MORE than a fifth of adult Filipinos were jobless in 2016, slightly higher from the previous year, according to the latest survey by the Social Weather Stations (SWS).

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In a report, the SWS said joblessness in the four quarter of 2016 averaged 22.3 percent, up from 2015’s 21.9 percent.

This was after the number of unemployed Filipino adults increased by three million in the fourth quarter of 2016.

The poll, taken from December 3 to 6, found that 25.1 percent or an estimated 11.2 million adult Filipinos were jobless in December.

SWS said the fourth-quarter adult joblessness rate was 6.7 points more than the 18.4 percent or an estimated 8.2 million adults recorded in the third-quarter poll conducted in September 2016.

Based on an SWS chart, 12.2 percent or an estimated 5.5 million adults resigned or voluntarily left their jobs. This was 4.2 points more than September’s 8.0 percent or an estimated 3.6 million adults.

The chart also showed that 8.7 percent or an estimated 3.9 million adults lost their jobs because of economic circumstances beyond their control, up 1.3 points from the third quarter’s 7.4 percent or an estimated 3.3 million adults.

An estimated 1.9 million adults or 4.3 percent were first-time job seekers. This was lower than the 3.1 percent or an estimated 1.4 million adults recorded previously.

In terms of age groups, the SWS found that joblessness fell by 16.7 points in the 18- to 24-year-old bracket, the lowest in 12 years. But joblessness rose in the others: by 14.8 points among respondents aged 25 to 34 years, by 9.6 points in the 35 to 44-year-old group and by 5.7 points among respondents aged at least 45 years old.

The fourth-quarter survey put adult labor force participation rate at 72.1 percent or 44.8 million adults, hardly changed from the third quarter’s 72.0 percent or an estimated 44.7 million adults.

The SWS definition of joblessness covers respondents age 18 and over who were “without a job at present and looking for a job.” This excludes those not looking for work like housewives, students, and retired or disabled persons.

The same survey also showed optimism about job prospects at a peak, with 48 percent expecting that there would be more jobs in the next 12 months. This was higher than September’s 44 percent, marking the best reading, so far, since at least September 2013, according to the SWS.

SWS said the December readings lifted net optimism on job availability (percent more jobs minus percent fewer jobs) by six points to a record “very high” +37 in December from September’s “very high” +31.

The SWS classifies as “very high” a net optimism score of at least +30; and +20 to +29 as “high”; +10 to +19, “fair”; +1 to +9, “mediocre”; -9 to zero, “low”; as well as -10 and below as “very low.”

“This is the highest net optimism on job availability score since SWS began surveying it in 1998,” SWS said, noting that December’s reading “surpassed the previous record of +36 in November 2010.”

The survey, which was first published by BusinessWorld on Friday, had sampling error margins of ±3% for national percentages.

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