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46% of Pinoys – or 27.3 million – jobless; more layoffs feared

By: Jovic Yee, Julie Aurelio, Kathleen de Villa, Roy Stephen C. Canivel - | August 18,2020 - 08:46 AM

MANILA, Philippines — Joblessness among Filipino adults rose to a 12-year high in July, as 27.3 million found themselves without a job during a pandemic, according to the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey.

Conducted from July 3 to 6, the poll found that 45.5 percent of the 1,555 respondents were jobless. This was 28 points up from 17.5 percent or an estimated 7.9 million jobless Filipinos in December 2019.

Although Malacañang is not happy that millions of Filipinos lost their jobs amid the COVID-19 pandemic, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said it “could have been worse.”

“Would you be surprised that they lost their jobs when our economy was locked down for months? I am glad that we are not 100 percent jobless,” Roque told a press briefing.

“With our long lockdown, I’m still surprised at our resilience, and that only 45 percent have lost jobs so far. It could have been worse because we are experiencing a complete lockdown,” he said.

Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr., president of the Employers’ Confederation of the Philippines (Ecop), said the numbers might even get worse because of the reimposition of the modified enhanced community quarantine.

“How can you ever get back [to how it was before] when mass transportation is not yet even fixed?” he said in a phone interview, pointing out that many people like jeepney drivers lost their jobs when the MECQ (modified enhanced community quarantine) was enforced.

The latest joblessness rate was also the highest since March 2012, when joblessness was recorded at 34.4 percent, the SWS said.

In all areas, joblessness figures were also record-high. Joblessness was highest in the Visayas at 46.6 percent in July, up from 15.7 percent in December, surpassing the previous record of 31 percent in July.

In Luzon outside Metro Manila, it rose to 45.2 percent from 17.3 percent in December, surpassing the previous record of 39 percent in March 2012. In Metro Manila, it soared to 43.5 percent from 15 percent in December, breaking the previous record of 42 percent in February 2009. In Mindanao, it climbed to 46.5 percent from 20.7 percent in December, breaking the previous record of 34 percent in March 2012.

The survey, which was conducted using mobile phone and computer-assisted telephone interviews, had a margin of error of plus-or-minus 2 percent.

According to a June 5 report of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), 7.3 million were unemployed in April, of which 4.9 million of them lost their jobs. This made joblessness climb to its highest rate at 17.7 percent.

But according to the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole), only close to 100,000 workers were laid off in the first half of the year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, more than a third of whom lost their jobs in June alone.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III had explained that Dole’s job loss figures were based on company reports and the PSA’s were culled from a survey.

Meanwhile, there are 83,339 businesses that have temporarily closed down, an increase of 204 from last week. More than 2 million workers are affected by these temporary closures.

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TAGS: jobless, pandemic, SWS Survey

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