Saturday, May 16, 2009

Adult unemployment at record-high 34.2%:

SWS Media Release / 12 May 2009

First Quarter 2009 Social Weather Survey:

Adult unemployment at record-high 34.2%:

13% of them left old job, 12% were retrenched

Social Weather Stations

The First Quarter 2009 Social Weather Survey, fielded over February 20-23, 2009, found adult unemployment rising to record-high 34.2%, or an estimated 14 million, from 27.9% or estimated 11 million from the previous quarter.

The survey also found that of those unemployed, 13% voluntarily left their old job, while 12% were retrenched, consisting of 9% who were laid off and 3% whose previous contact was not renewed.

Unemployment has been over 20% since 2005

Adult unemployment in the SWS surveys has been 20% and above since May 2005, except for December 2007 when it was 17.5% [Chart 1, Table 1].

In the SWS data series which began in 1993, unemployment was below 15% until March 2004, and then ranged from 16.5% to 19.0% from August 2004 to March 2005.

Job history of the unemployed

Over the past four quarters, adult unemployment is dominated by those who voluntarily left their old work, and those who were retrenched – either by getting laid off or by not having their contracts renewed [Chart 2].

In the latest February 2009 survey, 13% of the unemployed left their old jobs voluntarily, 9% were laid off, 3% had their contracts finished and not renewed, and 3% said their employers closed operation. Six percent never worked before at the time of the survey.

SWS unemployment definition

The SWS data on unemployment refer to the population of adults in the labor force. This is because respondents in the standard SWS surveys are those at least 18 years old. The 1993-2008 figures are consistently based on the traditional definition of unemployment as not working and at the same time looking for work. Those not working but not looking for work are excluded from the labor force; these are housewives, retired, disabled, students, etc.

On the other hand, the official lower boundary of the labor force has always been 15 years of age. Formerly, the official definition of unemployment was not working and looking for work. However, from April 2005 onward, the new official definition has included the concept of availability for work; it subtracts those not available for work, even though looking for work, and adds those available for work but not seeking work for the following reasons: tired/believe no work is available, awaiting results of a job application, temporarily ill/disabled, bad weather, and waiting for rehire/job recall.

If the official definition is applied, the unemployment rate among adults 18 years old is 25.9% in the SWS February 2009 survey. It is lower than when computed using the traditional definition because the correction for those looking for work but ‘not truly available’ is much larger than the correction for those ‘actually available’ though not looking for work at the moment.

Survey Background

The First Quarter of 2009 Social Weather Survey was conducted over February 20 – 23, 2009 using face-to-face interviews of 1,200 adults in Metro Manila, the Balance of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao (sampling error margins of ±2.5% for national percentages, ±6% for area percentages) . The area estimates were weighted by National Statistics Office medium-population projections for 2009 to obtain the national estimates.

The quarterly Social Weather Surveys on unemployment are not commissioned, but are done on SWS's own initiative and released as a public service, with first printing rights assigned to BusinessWorld.

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