Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts

Vol. V,    No. 19      June 19 - 25, 2005      Quezon City, Philippines











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Copyright 2004 Bulatlat



Statistical Trick Makes 1.9 Million Jobless Disappear

Malacañang resorted to statistical trickery to declare on June 15: “Unemployment rate drops to 8.3 percent.” But a closer look at the numbers shows that the jobs situation in the country is more dismal than ever.


There is, it seems, no end to the half-truths emanating from Malacañang. Amidst serious allegations of presidential-level electoral fraud and corruption, the palace propaganda machinery continues to churn out deceits. A June 15, 2005 press release not only bannered the “fall” in the unemployment rate but also audaciously proclaimed, “The government’s jobs generation and preservation thrust gains momentum.”

The flimsy basis for these claims is a change in the official unemployment methodology in which a huge chunk of the country’s jobless are, by methodological fiat, no longer counted as unemployed. Based on the new and more stringent definition adopted by the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB), there were only 2.9 million jobless Filipinos in April 2005 for an unemployment rate of just 8.3 percent. This is the lowest recorded second quarter rate in over two decades.

But that would only be because a massive 1.9 million jobless Filipinos were magically removed from the labor force under the changed definition, resulting in a 4.6 percent cut in the unemployment rate. If the old definition of unemployment is used the number of unemployed in April 2005 is actually 4.8 million and the rate a high 12.9 percent.

In addition, the country’s dire jobs situation isn’t just about unemployment. A look at the entire April 2005 Labor Force Survey (LFS) and using the old definition of employment for comparability, clearly shows a drastically deteriorating jobs situation from last year. It is certainly true that there was a drop in the number of unemployed, from 5.0 million in April 2004 to 4.8 million in April 2005.

But on top of the 4.8 million jobless we also have to consider the near record high 8.4 million underemployed, or those who have jobs but are looking for additional work. The 26.1 percent underemployment rate is the highest in almost two decades. All told this means some 13.2 million Filipinos are either unemployed or otherwise still not earning enough from the jobs they have in order to have decent living.

Other parts of the April 2005 and 2004 LFS also show that the quality of jobs in the country is deteriorating rapidly. The share of wage and salary jobs to total employment fell only slightly to 50.6 percent from 51.0 percent; the share of own account and unpaid family workers slightly increased to 49.4 percent from 49.0 percent. Wage and salary jobs presumably mean more stable earnings and offer greater security.

The number of full-time workers meanwhile increased substantially from 55.1 percent to 62.3 percent, while that of part-time workers fell from 41.4 percent to 35.8 percent. Yet more or less the same relative amount of wage jobs and more full-time work were apparently not generating enough income even for the employed since the number of underemployed drastically increased.

The kind of jobs lost and created is also revealing. The greatest job losses were to be found in the liberalization-battered agriculture, hunting and forestry subsector which shed 146,000 jobs and dropped to 9.6 million in total employment, and in the fiscal deficit-battered public administration subsector which shed 126,000 jobs and dropped to 1.5 million in total employment.

In turn, most jobs created were in low-paying, low-earning subsectors of uncertain employment. The number of wholesale and retail trade jobs increased by 424,000 jobs to a total of 6.4 million and the number of real estate, renting and business activity employment – covering mainly miscellaneous informal sector entrepreneurial activities – increased by 107,000 to a total of 776,000.

In short, the government is deceiving the public on how much unemployment there is and, moreover, is less and less able to manage the economy so that it creates decent and secure livelihoods for the people. Bulatlat




© 2004 Bulatlat  Alipato Publications

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