Statistical Trick Makes
1.9 Million Jobless Disappear
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.
BY SANDRA NICOLAS
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
PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION ■
© 2004 Bulatlat
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