The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), in partnership with SM Malls conduct nationwide jobs fair in celebration of Labor Day (May 1). Over 310,000 jobs are offered to qualified applicants. Photo shows applicants line up at Mall Event Center of SM Manila. (MNS photo)

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), in partnership with SM Malls conduct nationwide jobs fair in celebration of Labor Day (May 1). Over 310,000 jobs are offered to qualified applicants. Photo shows applicants line up at Mall Event Center of SM Manila. (MNS photo)

MANILA, Feb 2 (Mabuhay) — Some 12.4 million Filipinos were jobless in the fourth quarter of 2014, resulting in a joblessness rate of  27 percent – the highest since December 2013’s 27.5 percent, a new poll taken by the Social Weather Stations found.

The fourth quarter results brought 2014’s joblessness rate average to 25.4 percent, compared to 2013’s annual average of 25.2 percent.

Quarterly joblessness was at a record-high 34.4 percent in March 2012, and has been hovering between 21.7 and 29.4 percent since.

The SWS pointed out that 2014 and 2013 joblessness numbers coincided with the slowdown in gross domestic product growth, which, according to official data, slowed to 6.1 percent in 2014 from 7.2 percent in 2013.

The SWS was taken among 1,800 adults from Nov. 27 to Dec. 1. The poll had sampling error margins of ±2 percent for national percentages; ±6 percent each for Metro Manila, Balance Luzon and Mindanao; and ±3 percent for the Visayas.

The poll was posted on the Business World website.

Optimism

Despite the increased joblessness numbers, the poll found improved optimism that work would become available in the next 12 months.

Net optimism on job availability – the difference between respondents who were optimistic that there would be more jobs over those pessimistic that there would be less – increased to +16 from the +12 in the third quarter of 2014.

In the fourth quarter of 2014, 36 percent, said the number of available jobs in the next 12 months would increase. Some 32 percent said it would not change, and 20 percent (from 22 percent) said the number of positions available would decrease.

In September, 33 percent said the number of available jobs in the next 12 months would increase, while 33 percent said it would not change, and 22 percent said available jobs would decrease.

Nevertheless, the increase still placed optimism within the “fair” rating.

The SWS classifies net optimism on job availability scores of +30 and above as “very high”; +20 to +29, “high”; +10 to +19, “fair; +1 to +9, “mediocre”; zero to -9, “low”; and -10 and below, “very low.”

Joblessness breakdown

The SWS said that the adult joblessness rate in the fourth quarter of 2014 included:

those who resigned or voluntarily left their old jobs (14 percent, about 6.5 million adults)

those who involuntarily lost their jobs due to economic circumstances beyond their control such as contracts not renewed, employers closing operation, or being laid off (9 percent or about 4.3 million adults)

first-time job-seekers (3 percent or about 1.5 million adults).

Those retrenched included 6 percent (from 4 percent in September) whose previous contracts were not renewed, 2 percent (from 1 percent) laid off, and 2 percent (same as September) whose employers shut operations.

The proportion of those who quit rose by two points from 12 percent in the third quarter.

Those retrenched increased by two points from September’s 7 percent, while first-time job seekers “hardly moved”, staying at 3 percent.

Joblessness rose across most age segments except among the youth – those 18 to 24 years old, in which the joblessness rate fell to 48 from 50 percent.

Joblessness rose to 32 percent from 30 percent among those aged 25 to 34; 22 from 18 percent for those aged 35 to 44; and to 19 from 15 percent among those aged at least 45.

Among the genders, joblessness among women “rose sharply” to 41.7 percent from 33.2 percent, the highest since the 42.5 percent in August 2012.

Among men, joblessness “barely moved” but rose slightly to 15.6 from 14.9 percent in the third quarter.

Government definition

The SWS’s definition of joblessness is different from that of the government’s, which the later uses for the Labor Force Survey.

SWS respondents are at least 18 years old compared to the lower official boundary of 15 years.

Also, the SWS survey considers persons with jobs as those currently working, including unpaid family members.

SWS joblessness is based on two traditional qualifications: without a job at present and looking for a job. Those not working, without a job but not looking for one, such as housewives and students, are excluded.

In contrast, government’s Labor Force Survey defines the unemployed using three concepts: not working, looking for work and available for work.

Those not available for work, even though looking, are excluded, and those available for work but not seeking it due to illness or waiting for results of a job interview are included.

Applying the government’s definition, the SWS said fourth quarter joblessness among adults 18 years old and up was 17.9 percent, or 7.3 million Filipinos.

That is 17.6 percent or about 7.2 million adults who were not working, looking for work, and available for work and 0.2 percent or 90,900 adults not working, not looking for work but available for work. (MNS)