Around nine million adult Filipinos were without work in the first quarter of 2015, although the unemployment rate has gone down to its lowest since 2010, the Social Weather Stations (SWS) said in its latest survey.
The SWS survey–published in BusinessWorld on Tuesday–said the unemployment rate in the country for March 2015 was at 19.1 percent, nearly eight percentage points down from the 27 percent (about 12.4 million adults) jobless last December.
Prior to this, the lowest unemployment rate was recorded in September 2010 at 18.9 percent.
The pollster said seven percent of the respondents involuntarily left their jobs, while eight percent resigned.
First-time jobseekers barely changed from three percent.
Also, the SWS noted that more Filipinos expect job prospects to further improve in the next 12 months.
According to the SWS, the adult unemployment rate in the country has been on a downward trend since the record-high 34.4 percent recorded in March 2012.
But it said if the government’s definition of joblessness were to be used, joblessness among adults 18 years old and up as of March would be a lower 12.4 percent or 5.4 million.
This includes 11.4 percent (about five million adults) not working, looking for work and available for work; and one percent (about 420,000) not working and not looking for work but available for work.
The survey, taken from March 20 to 23, used face-to-face interviews of 1,200 adults nationwide.
It has sampling error margins of plus or minus three percentage points for national and plus or minus six percentage points for regional percentages.
In addition to a lower unemployment rate, the latest survey results showed that optimism for work availability in the next 12 months improved, with about four in 10 Filipinos (38 percent) saying so.
Thirty-one percent, on the other hand, said the situation would not change while 18 percent said fewer jobs would be available.
These resulted in a “high” net optimism score of +20 from a “fair” +16 last December.
It was the highest recorded since the +36 in November 2010.
The SWS describes a net optimism score of +30 and above as “very high”; +20 to +29 “high”; +10 to +19 “fair”; +1 to +9 “mediocre”; -9 to zero “low”; and -10 and down “very low.”
The polling firm said unemployment fell everywhere except those aged 18-24.
Joblessness among women was at 27.6 percent in March, down 14.1 points from December’s 41.7 percent, while among men only 12.2 percent were jobless, down from 15.6 percent.
By age, it rose among those 18 to 24 years old, to 50 percent from December’s 48 percent.
Joblessness among those 45 years and above was 8 percent, down from 19 percent in December. This was the lowest since March 2005.
Among those 35 to 44 years old, 16 percent said they were jobless, down from 16 percent.
Joblessness among those 25 to 34 years old was at 28 percent, down from 32 percent in December.
The SWS defines joblessness as having no job at present and also looking for one.
The respondents are at least 18 years old compared to the lower official boundary of 15 years of age used by the Philippine Statistics Authority.
In the SWS survey, persons with jobs are those currently working, including unpaid family members.
The government’s official Labor Force Survey, meanwhile, defines the unemployed as those not working, are looking for work and are available for work.
Applying the government’s definition, the SWS said adult joblessness as of March would be 12.4 percent or about 5.4 million Filipinos.
Malacanang welcomed the drop in the country’s unemployment rate and expressed optimism that economic growth would help boost job opportunities for Filipinos.