About 12.2 million Filipinos were jobless during the first quarter of the year, slightly lower than last year’s record as the government gradually eased up economic restrictions despite the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey.
Conducted 28 April to 2 May, the SWS poll showed that 25.8 percent of the adult labor force remained unemployed, although it was a slight improvement from November 2020’s record of 27.3 percent or 12.7 million Filipinos.
The latest figure, however, was 8.3 percent higher compared to the 17.5 percent logged in December 2019 before the coronavirus outbreak in the Philippines.
The 12.2 million jobless Filipinos were those who voluntarily left their former jobs, those seeking jobs for the first time, and those who lost their sources of income due to “economic circumstances beyond their control,” the pollster said.
Joblessness decreased in Metro Manila and Balance Luzon, but rose in the Visayas and Mindanao — which have been seeing a surge in coronavirus infections in recent weeks.
According to the SWS, the percentages of those who were unemployed remained highest in Metro Manila at 30.8 percent, even if it improved by 7 percent from November’s 37.8 percent.
The capital region was followed by the Visayas (28.7 percent from 19.1 percent), Balance Luzon (24.2 percent from 32.7 percent), and Mindanao (23 percent from 17 percent).
The poll also found that more respondents from urban areas were jobless at 28 percent — a slight improvement from last year’s 29.8 percent — compared to those residing in rural areas at 23.3 percent.
As for gender, more women were unemployed at 29 percent than men at 23.6 percent, the SWS said.
The resulting women-men joblessness gap of 5 points was the lowest since March 2004, when the women-men joblessness gap was just 3 points, according to the pollster.
Meanwhile, the joblessness rate remained highest among the 18-24-year-olds among all age groups at 55.5 percent just like in past surveys, the SWS said.
The said age group was followed by 35-to-44-year-olds at 25.6 percent, 25-to-34-year-olds at 24.6 percent, and 45 years old and above at 18.2 percent.
The SWS conducted face-to-face interviews with 1,200 adults for the survey, which had a sampling error margin of ±3 percent for national percentages.
The non-commissioned poll was conducted at a time when the government gradually eased restrictions on businesses in a bid to spur economic activity.
Joblessness reached a record-high 45.5 percent in July 2020 at the height of strict quarantine measures in the country. It eased to 39.5 percent in September 2020, 27.3 percent in November 2020, and 25.8 percent in May 2021.
The average joblessness rate for 2020 was a record-high 37.4 percent, surpassing the previous record average of 28.8 percent in 2012.