Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts
Volume 2, Number 33 September 22 - 28, 2002 Quezon City, Philippines
and Realities in Labor Force Surveys
reportage of the latest labor force survey released on Sept. 16 only cited
employment data and did not analyze the methodology behind the computation of
the figures. At this point, it is important to scrutinize not just the
government's standards of work and employment but also give a "human
face" to the country's employment situation.
DANILO ARAŅA ARAO
Fred, 47, works for only one hour a week as a mechanic in a nearby vulcanizing
shop. His wife Anita, 45, engages in home gardening to raise vegetables for
household needs. His daughter Kate, 18, substitutes for Rudy, 20, a sickly older
brother from time to time in selling newspapers.
government standards, Mang Fred, Anita, Kate and Rudy are part of the
30.1-million employed people as of July 2002.
National Statistics Office (NSO) released last Sept. 16 the preliminary results
of its July 2002 labor force survey which claims, among others, an increase in
employed persons "by 2.8 percent to 30.1 million from 29.3 million recorded
in July last year (2001)."
survey also notes a slight increase in unemployed persons, from 3.3 million
during the same period last year to 3.8 million in July 2002. (See Table)
terms of employment
the government, a person like Mang Fred who works for one hour during the
reference period is considered employed, even if he or she does not get paid
"on the farm or business enterprise operated by a member of the same
household related by blood, marriage or adoption" as in the case of Kate.
to the technical notes on the labor force made available by NSO, the reference
period is the "'past week' referring to the past seven days days preceeding
(sic) the date of visit of the enumerator or interviewer."
those in Rudy's situation, the government considers employed a person who has a
job but is not at work because of temporary illness/injury, vacation or other
The same is true for a person who is not at work but is expected to have one
"within two weeks."
The same is true for a person who is not at work but is expected to have one "within two weeks."
likes of Anita who only stays at home and does backyard farming are also
technically employed, since government also defines as work "minor
activities in home gardening, raising of crops, fruits, hogs, poultry, etc.,
fishing for home consumption and manufacturing for own use."
government only counts, however, those who have done "some harvest in the
case of home gardening, raising of crops, fruits and nuts and gathering of wild
fruits and vegetables; animals disposed of (sold, consumed, bartered or given
away) or some catch in fishing in order that these activities will be considered
standards show no distinction between regular and temporary employment. It also
becomes hard to ascertain the number of employed people who actually get paid
for services rendered.
definitions of work and employment must be kept in mind in analyzing the
breakdown of employed people as claimed by government.
on the July 2002 labor force survey, only 14.9 million people are classified as
wage and salary workers, comprising 49% of the total employed. Those who are
own-account and unpaid family workers comprise about 51% of total employed, with
15.2 million people.
workers are either those who become self-employed out of personal choice or
those who are forced to fend for themselves or scrounge for a living due because
jobs are simply unavailable. On the other hand, an unpaid family worker assists
a member of a family in fulfilling the latter's job even if he or she does not
get any compensation.
such misrepresentations of reality, it is still worth noting that the 3.8
million unemployed people are mainly those who are in the ages 15 to 24. The
latest data show that this age group accounts for 48% of the total. (See Table)
within this age bracket are supposed to be given priority in getting jobs since
they are mostly fresh graduates and are considered to be in their most
high underemployment rate of 17.1% must also be taken into account. As of July
2002, this means that there are 5.2 million underemployed people.
defines underemployment as employed persons "who express the desire to have
additional hours of work in their present job or an additional job, or to have a
new job with longer working hours."
visibly underemployed who currently number 3.3 million are employed people
working for less than 40 hours and want additional hours of work. On the other
hand, invisibly underemployed are those who work for more than 40 hours but are
dissatisfied with their current occupation.
the limitations of the labor force data, the high underemployment rate is a
concrete indication of the extent of job dissatisfaction among Filipinos.
confronted with the government's standards of work and employment, Mang Fred
only shrugs his shoulders. "This only means that government is fooling the
people which is nothing new."
could not care less if he is considered employed, underemployed or unemployed
since his lack of a regular source of income makes it hard for him to provide
for the needs of his family. "For me, having a regular job and just wages
are more important and the government has not been able to help me."
wife Anita, meanwhile, expresses surprise, disbelief and amusement. "How
can I be employed when all I do is backyard farming and I don't even get paid
for it?" She even advises Bulatlat.com to recheck the NSO's technical notes
since she finds the standards very hard to believe.
Both Kate and Fred politely refuse to be interviewed since they have better things to do. The sun is already up, and the former needs to get the day's newspapers from the distributor, while the latter needs to be alone to rest. Bulatlat.com