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Jobless Filipinos at 9.4 million in December 2023 —SWS

The number of jobless Filipinos increased to 9.4 million in December 2023 from 7.9 million in September 2023, according to the survey of Social Weather Stations (SWS).

The national survey conducted from December 8 to 11 last year said the 9.4 million unemployed represent 19.5% of the adult labor force.

The figure was 2.6 points higher than the 16.9% jobless in September 2023.

SWS defines the labor force as adults (18 years and above) presently with a job, and those looking for a job.

According to the survey firm, the jobless consist of those who voluntarily left their old jobs; are seeking jobs for the first time; or lost their jobs due to economic circumstances beyond their control.

The December 2023 survey also found the labor force participation rate at 65.7%, or an estimated 48.3 million. It was 63.3%, or an estimated 46.5 million, in September 2023.

The labor force participation rate represents the proportion of adults in the labor force. 

"Joblessness reached a catastrophic level of 45.5% in July 2020 before going on a generally downward trend since September 2020," SWS said.

The survey showed joblessness staying higher among women at 26% than among men at 15%.

Joblessness rose in all areas except in Balance Luzon, the survey showed, comparing the December and September data.

Survey background

The SWS fourth quarter survey used face-to-face interviews of 1,200 adults (18 years old and above) nationwide: 300 each in Metro Manila, Balance Luzon (or Luzon outside Metro Manila), the Visayas, and Mindanao.

The sampling error margins are ±2.8% for national percentages, and ±5.7% each for Metro Manila, Balance Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao.

"The area estimates were weighted by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) medium-population projections for 2023 to obtain the national estimates," SWS said.

The survey was non-commissioned.

PSA data

In February this year, the PSA reported that there were fewer jobless Filipinos recorded in the last month of 2023 while the employed ones grew amid the seasonal demand for labor during the holidays.

PSA said the number of unemployed individuals, ages 15 and above, shrunk further to 1.60 million in December 2023 from 1.83 million in November 2023.

"In the past, SWS has compared its Joblessness rate with PSA's unemployment rate. However, given the differences between SWS and PSA's definitions of employment (e.g., age range, reference period, etc.), there has been an understandably large discrepancy between PSA's unemployment rate and SWS's joblessness rate," SWS explained.

For example, the survey firm said it directly asks if the respondent has work at present, whereas PSA specifies a minimum of one hour of work to be counted as employed.

"The leniency of this requirement made it very easy to be officially categorized as employed," SWS said

"To address this, PSA's unemployment and underemployment rates have been combined and expressed as a proportion of the labor force. The resulting statistic allows for more conceptually and statistically comparable rates with SWS's joblessness rates, as it combines PSA respondents who are unemployed and those who have worked more than one hour in the past week who want more hours of work. This yields a more accurate picture of the labor situation in the Philippines," SWS added.—LDF, GMA Integrated News