By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz
The rate of unemployment among Filipinos has declined for the second consecutive quarter to 19.7 percent, or an estimated 9.4 million, in the first quarter of 2019, based on the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey results.
In the nationwide survey conducted last March 28-31 among 1,440 respondents, SWS found that the proportion of adults in the labor force, who are jobless has been decreasing for two consecutive quarters.
The 19.7 percent in March 2019 was 1.4 points below the 21.1 percent (estimated 9 million adults) in December 2018, and 2.3 points below the 22 percent (estimated 9.8 million adults) in September 2018.
SWS defines adult joblessness as those seeking jobs for the first time, those who voluntarily left their old jobs, or those retrenched or lost their jobs due to economic circumstances beyond their control
The 19.7 percent who were jobless in March 2019 consisted of 9.4 percent (4.5 million adults) who voluntarily left their jobs, 7.6 percent (3.6 million adults) retrenched, and 2.7 percent (1.3 million adults) first-time job seekers.
The 7.6 percent who were retrenched consisted of 5.6 percent (2.7 million adults) whose contracts ended and no longer renewed, 1.4 percent (680,000 adults) who got laid off, and 0.5 percent (261,000 adults) whose previous employer closed operations.
In Metro Manila, there was a six-point decrease in adult joblessness, from 27 percent (1.7 million adults) in December 2018 to 21 percent in March 2019.
This is the first in five quarters where there has been a decrease in adult joblessness in the capital. It remained unchanged for three quarters at 19 percent from December 2017 to June 2018, increased to 26 percent in September 2018 and then to 28 percent in December 2018, before decreasing to 21 percent in March 2019.
In Mindanao, adult joblessness decreased by nine points, from 26 percent (2.7 million adults) in December to 17 percent in March. This comes after a six-point increase from 20 percent in September 2018 to 26 percent in December 2018.
In the rest of Luzon, adult joblessness increased by two points, from 19 percent (3.4 million adults) in December to 21 percent in March. A four-point decrease was registered from 23 percent in September 2018 to 19 percent in December 2018.
In Visayas, adult joblessness increased by two points from 16 percent (1.2 million adults) to 18 percent. This comes after a four-point decrease from 20 percent in September 2018 to 16 percent in December 2018.
Adult joblessness has been consistently higher among women than among men.
In March 2019, it was 30 percent (6 million adults) among women, while it was 12 percent (3.4 million) among men.
Likewise, adult joblessness has been consistently highest among 18 to 24-year-olds compared to other age groups.
The March 2019 survey found joblessness at 46 percent (2.1 million adults) among this age group, followed by 27 percent (3 million adults) among 25 to 34 year olds, 18 percent (2 million adults) among 35-44 year olds, and 11 percent (2.2 million adults) among those aged 45 years and above.
The March 2019 survey also found that adult joblessness was slightly higher in urban areas at 21 percent (4.1 million adults), than in rural areas at 19 percent (5.2 million adults).
Compared to the previous quarter, adult joblessness remained the same at 21 percent in urban, while it decreased by two points in rural areas from 21 percent in December 2018 to 19 percent in March 2019.
The March 2019 survey also asked the respondents about their opinion on the availability of jobs in the next 12 months.
The outlook that there will be more jobs in the next 12 months fell by two points from 52 percent in December to 50 percent in March.
Meanwhile, the outlook that there will be fewer jobs rose by one point from 12 to 13 percent. The proportion of those who say there will be no change in job availability rose by three points, from 22 percent in December to 25 percent in March.
The resulting net optimism on job availability (percent more jobs minus percent fewer jobs) is a “very high” +37 in March 2019.
It soared from “high” +24 in September 2018 to “excellent” +40 in December 2018 before dipping to “very high” +37 in March 2019.