SELF-RATED poverty in the country slid further in the second quarter of the year and stood at its lowest level since December 2011, according to the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey.
The poll, conducted from June 24 to 27 among 1,200 adults, showed that 45 percent of respondents or about 10.5 million Filipino families considered themselves as “mahirap” or “poor.”
“This is the lowest Self-Rated Poverty rate in over four years, since 45 percent in December 2011,” the SWS said.
The latest SWS survey came barely two months after Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte took his oath of office as President.
Before he was elected, Duterte promised annual economic growth of 7 percent to 8 percent or even higher to cut poverty. He also promised to end crime and corruption.
The latest SWS poverty rate was 1 percent lower than the 46 percent recorded in the previous survey in April. The results of the new survey were first reported in BusinessWorld.
By SWS’ reckoning, the lowest self-rated poverty rate was at 43 percent, recorded in March 2010, matching the all-time low hit in March 1987.
SWS noted declines in self-rated poverty in the Visayas and Balance Luzon (Luzon except Metro Manila) that outweighed increases reported in Metro Manila and Mindanao.
Self-rated poverty in the Visayas decreased to 52 percent in the latest survey from the 57 percent recorded in April. This was below the 2015 average of 66 percent.
In Balance Luzon, the proportion of those who rated themselves “poor” dropped by three percentage points to 44 percent from 41 percent the last time the survey was conducted. The latest tally was two points below the 43-percent average seen in 2015.
The proportion of those who saw themselves as poor in Metro Manila stood at 32 percent. This was higher than the 30 percent recorded in April and a point below last year’s average for the nation’s capital.
Self-rated poverty in Mindanao was at 54 percent in June, a bit higher than the 53 percent recorded in the last survey. Despite the increase, the figure was still nine percentage points below the 63-percent average last year.
‘Food poverty’ stable
Asked based on the food they eat if they considered themselves “food poor,” 31 percent of respondents, equivalent to 6.9 million families, said yes. The figure was the same as that of the April survey.
“This is 4 points below the 35-percent four-quarter average of 2015, and the lowest Self-Rated Food-Poverty rate in over five years, since the record-low 31 percent was first achieved in March 2010,” the SWS said.
In Metro Manila, the number of those who rated themselves food-poor was 20 percent, down from the 22 percent recorded last April. This was the lowest since March 2015 and was two percentage points below the 2015 average of 22 percent.
Food poverty fell by two percentage points in Balance Luzon to 27 percent, down two points from the 29 percent recorded in April.
However, the food-poor rate rose by four percentage points in the Visayas to settle at 37 percent in June, from 33 percent in April. Despite the increase, the SWS said the result was still seven percentage points below the 2015 Visayas average of 44 percent.
In Mindanao, the food poverty rate was at 39 percent, up two points from 37 percent in April. However, this was still 12 percentage points below the 2015 Mindanao average of 51 percent.
The latest survey also showed that families raised the benchmarks from which they based their self-assessment of being financially poor and food-hungry.
The median self-rated poverty threshold based on the June survey was P20,000 in Metro Manila, P15,000 in Balance Luzon and P10,000 in both the Visayas and Mindanao.
These figures represented the lowest monthly home expense budget families needed so as not to consider themselves poor.
“The June 2016 median Self-Rated Poverty thresholds in Metro Manila, Balance Luzon and Mindanao are at the highest levels ever reached in those areas,” the SWS said.
The median food poverty threshold was at P10,000 in Metro Manila, a record-high of P8,000 in Balance Luzon, and P5,000 in the Visayas and Mindanao.
These figures represented the lowest monthly food budget needed by the poorer half of “food-poor” families so as not to consider themselves food-poor.
“The April 2016 median Self-Rated Food Poverty threshold in Balance Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao are at the highest levels ever reached in those areas,” the SWS said.