Labor force survey underestimates massive joblessness

The country reported its highest-ever unemployment rate. Those who lost their livelihood including the jeepney drivers call on the government to allow them to return to work. Photo by Agence France-Presse.

The recent Labor Force Survey of April 2020 does not tell the whole story, a labor NGO said.

The Ecumenical Institute for labor Education and Research (EILER) said that with nearly 9 million jobs lost during the COVID-19 crisis, workers face far worse than the anticipated.

“The unemployment rate increased with double figures up to 17.7% or 7.25 million Filipinos. Additionally, many were not able to enter the labor force at the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, as indicated in the drop in the labor force participation rate to 55.6% (the lowest labor participation rate since 1987). This excludes the 44.4% or 32.7 million Filipinos of working age from the labor force at present,” Executive Director Rochelle Porras said.

According to EILER, the statistics fail to accurately reflect the number of people without jobs all over the country. The 4.95 million Filipinos of working age that are excluded from the labor force  are not counted as unemployed under the technical definitions of PSA.

“More than 20% of the jobs are lost in during the pandemic, a loss far from the estimates of the Duterte Administration of 2.5 million jobloss,” Porras added.

Nationwide, 1 out of 5 jobs are lost during the COVID-19 crisis (20.8%). EILER noted that in Central Luzon almost 1 in 3 jobs were lost (31.4%) loss in employment. This indicates how Balik-Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa program lacks basis, as the employment situation in the regions outside of Metro Manila has worsened.

“Instead of the Balik-Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa program, the government should implement a National Minimum Wage and prioritize creation of decent, regular jobs. Nobody wants to go back to the province without livelihood and income. The key to genuine national development is national industrialization and genuine land reform program. Without these, land monopoly remains, foreign control of the Philippine economy dominates, and neoliberal policies continue to create large, docile wells of reserve labor as material basis for low wages and precarious work,” Porras concluded.

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