Unemployment in the country dropped from an estimate of 10 million individuals in the third quarter to 9.1 million individuals in the fourth quarter of 2015, according to a recent survey by the Social Weather Stations (SWS).
The survey, first published in BusinessWorld on Tuesday, showed that the number of jobless adults fell from 23.7 percent in September to 21.4 percent in December–the lowest in 11 years.
The fourth quarter results brought 2015’s joblessness rate average to 21.9 percent.
This was slower than 2014’s average of 25.4 percent and the slowest since 2004’s 15.8 percent.
The SWS poll was taken among 1,200 adults from December 5 to 8.
The poll had sampling error margins of ±2 percent for national percentages; ±6 percent each for Metro Manila, Balance Luzon and Mindanao; and ±3 percent for the Visayas.
The fourth quarter survey also found improved optimism that work would become available in the next 12 months.
Net optimism on job availability — the difference between respondents who were optimistic that there would be more jobs over those pessimistic that there would be fewer — increased to a “high” +29 from a “fair” +13 in the 2015’s third quarter.
In the fourth quarter of 2015, 45 percent, said the number of available jobs in the next 12 months would increase.
Some 27 percent said it would not change, and 16 percent said the number of positions available would decrease.
According to the SWS, a net optimism of +30 and above was “very high,” +20 to +29 was “high,” +10 to +19 was “fair,” +1 to +9 was “mediocre,” -9 to zero was “low” and -10 and below was “very low.”
The SWS said adult joblessness rate in the fourth quarter of 2015 included: those who resigned or voluntarily left their old jobs (9.6 percent or some 4.1 million adults, from the third quarter’s 8.4 percent); those who involuntarily lost their jobs because of economic circumstances beyond their control such as contracts not renewed, employers closing operation or being laid off (8 percent or some 3.4 million, from the third quarter’s 11.7 percent); and first-time job-seekers (3.6 percent or some 1.5 million adults, the same as the third quarter).
Joblessness among men fell by 2.1 points to 13.8 percent in December, while joblessness among women dropped by 2.5 points to 31.4 percent.
By age group, the joblessness rate among those aged at least 45 years old rose by 1.6 points to 15.3 percent.
Joblessness among those aged 35-44 years old was hardly changed at 22.2 percent in December from 21.7 percent in September.
On the other hand, joblessness among 25-34 year olds fell by 5.8 points to 25 percent.
Among those aged 18-24 years old, 56.9 percent said they were jobless, 5.7 points higher than September’s 51.1 percent.
The SWS’ definition of joblessness is different from that of the government, which the latter uses for the Labor Force Survey.
Its respondents were at least 18 years old, while the Philippine Statistics Authority uses a 15-year-old limit.
Furthermore, the SWS defined persons with jobs as those currently working, including unpaid family members.
Additionally, it defined joblessness as those without a job and were looking for a job. Those not working and not looking for a job (such as housewives, students, the retired, the disabled) are not included.
In contrast, the government’s Labor Force Survey defines the unemployed using three concepts: not working, looking for work and available for work.
Those not available for work, even though looking, are excluded, and those available for work but not seeking it because of illness or waiting for results of a job interview are included.
Applying the government’s definition, the SWS said fourth quarter joblessness among adults 18 years old was 14.4 percent or equivalent to 5.6 million adults.
That is 14.2 percent (estimated 5.5 million adults) who were not working, looking for work and available for work, and 0.2 percent (estimated 900,000 adults) who were not working, not looking for work but available for work.
Responding to the survey results, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said, “Decline in joblessness and uptrend in optimism on job availability indicate that government efforts are gaining traction.”
“This serves to spur greater efforts to implement skills training, skills matching and other job generation programs as well as intensified investment promotion for industry expansion,” Coloma said in a statement.