Category : Other Publications
Date : May 01, 2015
Title : First Quarter 2015 Social Weather Survey: Adult joblessness falls to 19.1%; 8% lost their jobs involuntarily, 7% resigned
Article : 01 May 2015
First reported in BusinessWorld, 29 April 2015

The First Quarter 2015 Social Weather Survey, fielded over March 20-23, 2015, found adult joblessness at 19.1% (est. 9.0 million adults).

This is 7.9 points below the 27.0% (est. 12.4 million adults) in December 2014, and the lowest since the 18.9% in September 2010.

Joblessness was above 20.0% since the record-high 34.4% in March 2012, ranging from 21.7% and 29.4% from May 2012 to December 2014 [Chart 1, Table 1].

The March 2015 adult joblessness rate consisted of 7% (est. 3.2 million adults) who voluntarily left their old jobs, 8% (est. 3.7 million adults) who involuntarily lost their jobs, and 4% (est. 2.1 million adults) who were first-time job seekers [Chart 2].

The survey also found that 38% of adults say the number of available jobs in the next 12 months will increase, 31% say it will not change, and 18% say it will decrease.

This gave a Net Optimism on job availability score of +20 (% more jobs minus % fewer jobs), classified by SWS as high. This is one grade above the fair +16 in December 2014 [Chart 3].

The SWS terminology for Net Optimism on job availability: +30 and above - "very high"; +20 to +29 - "high"; +10 to +19 - "fair"; +1 to +9 - "mediocre"; -9 to zero - "low"; -10 and down - "very low".

Profiles of the jobless

Adult joblessness consists of (a) those who voluntarily left their old jobs, (b) those who lost their jobs due to economic circumstances beyond their control, termed as the retrenched, and (c) those seeking jobs for the first time.

The proportion of those who resigned or left their old jobs voluntarily fell by 7 points from 14% in December to 7% in March 2015.

Those who were retrenched fell by 1 point, from 9% (correctly rounded) in December to 8% in March.

The 8% who were retrenched consisted of 4% whose previous contracts were not renewed, 3% whose employers closed operations, and 1% who were laid off.

First-time job seekers went from 3% in December to 4% in March.

Joblessness fell among men and women, and among 25+ years old

Compared to the previous quarter, adult joblessness among women fell by 14.1 points from 41.7% in December to 27.6% in March, the lowest since the 25.6% in September 2011 [Chart 4, Table 2].

It fell by 3.4 points among men, from 15.6% in December to 12.2% in March.

By age group, adult joblessness fell by 11 points among 45 years old and above, from 19% in December to 8% in March, the lowest since the 4% in March 2005 [Chart 5, Table 3].

It fell by 6 points among 35-44 years old, from 22% to 16%.

It fell by 4 points among 25-34 years old, from 32% to 28%.

On the other hand, it rose by 2 points among 18-24 (youth), from 48% to 50%

Job availability prospect rose to "high" +20

On the survey question, "Sa darating na 12 buwan mula ngayon, sa palagay ba ninyo ay DADAMI, HINDI MAGBABAGO, o MABABAWASAN ang trabaho na maaaring pasukan?" ["Twelve months from now, do you think there will be MORE JOBS, NO CHANGE in available jobs, or FEWER JOBS?"], optimism that there will be more jobs rose from 36% in December to 38% in March, while pessimism that there will be fewer jobs fell from 20% to 18%.

The proportion of those who say there will be no change in job availability barely moved from 32% to 31%.

This brought the Net Optimism on job availability score (% more jobs minus % fewer jobs) up by one grade from a fair +16 in December to a high +20 in March.

SWS Joblessness versus Labor Force Survey (LFS) Unemployment

The SWS data on joblessness 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. On the other hand, the official lower boundary of the labor force has always been 15 years of age.

In the SWS surveys, persons with jobs are those who have a job at present ("may trabaho sa kasalukuyan"), including unpaid family workers. The question does not use any past reference period. The SWS joblessness figures are consistently based on the traditional definition of joblessness as fulfilling two requirements: without a job at present and looking for a job. Those without a job but not looking for one, such as housewives, retirees, differently abled, and students, are excluded from the labor force.

On the other hand, the official Labor Force Survey (LFS) definition of employed include all those who, during the week before the interview date, are 15 years and over as of their last birthday and are reported to be either:

a. At work. Those who do any work for at least one hour during the reference week for pay or profit, or work without pay on the farm or business enterprise operated by a member of the same household related by blood, marriage, or adoption; or

b. With a job but not at work. Those who have a job or a business but are not at work because of temporary illness/injury, vacation, or other reasons. Also, persons who expect to report for work or to start operation of a farm or business enterprise within two weeks from the date of the enumerator's visit are considered employed.

Before April 2005, the official definition of the unemployed was those who did not work during the reference week and looking for work. However, from April 2005 onwards, the official definition was refined as follows: not working, looking for work, and available for work. It subtracts those who are looking but not available for work and adds those available but not looking for 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.

This means that if the availability requirement is included, adult joblessness in March 2015 was 12.4% (est. 5.4 million adults). That is, 11.4% (est. 5.0 million adults) who were not working, looking for work, and available for work and 1.0 % (est. 0.42 million adults) who were not working, not looking for work due to the reasons mentioned above, but available for work.

Therefore, among the 9.0 million adults who were jobless and were looking for work, 40% (est. 3.6 million adults) were not available for work at present or in the next two weeks.

Survey Background

The March 2015 Social Weather Survey was conducted from March 20-23, 2015 using face-to-face interviews of 1,200 adults nationwide, 300 each in Metro Manila, Balance of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao (sampling error margins of 3% for national percentages, and 6% each for Metro Manila, Balance of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao).

The area estimates were weighted by National Statistics Office medium-population projections for 2015 to obtain the national estimates.

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

SWS employs its own staff for questionnaire design, sampling, fieldwork, data processing, and analysis, and does not outsource any of its survey operations.

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