Press Release
August 9, 2018


Sen. Chiz Escudero wants the economic team to come up with the data on the country's unemployment rate that would accurately reflect the number of people without jobs all over the country.

"What's the real picture? Ilan ba talaga iyong Pilipinong malakas, nasa tamang edad na kayang magtrabaho ang walang trabaho?" Escudero asked the country's economic managers for clarification on Wednesday during the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) briefing.

According to Escudero, the definition of unemployment currently used by the government is somehow confusing since it does not include those who are unpaid family workers.

"I've been sitting in this committee for quite some time and I've always been asking the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) to come up with real unemployment figures because during GMA's (Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's) time, we shifted the definition and followed International Labor Organization's standards. And that brought down the unemployment rate immediately to 7 percent from 11 percent," Escudero pointed out.

"This is because the ILO definition of employed, which we adapted and which we are still using today, would include unpaid family workers, as well as those who worked for at least one hour in the previous week," he added.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), employed persons include those who work even for an hour during the past week that the survey was conducted, unpaid family members or those who work without pay on a business operated by a member of the same household, and those who have a job but not at work due to temporary illness, vacation, among others.

On the other hand, unemployed persons include all individuals, who are 15 years old without work, currently available for work and are willing to take a paid employment, and those who are actively seeking for a job, as defined by the PSA.

Socio-economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said that in 2017, unemployment rate was recorded at 5.7 percent, or about 2.4 million individuals, but this had gone down to 5.4 percent in the first half of 2018.

"Pero ano ba talaga iyong level of unemployment instead of making us all feel better that it's going down. It's only through the gaps and cracks of the nitty-gritty of defining it that it actually went down," Escudero said. "It would also be nice to know the level of employable workforce among Filipinos. Ilan na ba talaga yung may trabaho na kumikita ng sapat?"

Escudero also questioned NEDA'S claim during yesterday's budget briefing that the increase in the average income of individuals would compensate for inflation, which reached a five-year high of 5.7 percent in July.

"Tumaas ng 8.82 percent ang income kaya kahit ang inflation mo ay 5.7 percent okay pa rin? If we'll do this paano tataas iyong income ng magsasaka? How do you address that issue? Through subsidies? So nagtaas tayo ng TRAIN, may subsidy tayo sa jeepney drivers? It's highly inefficient. The subsidies which are supposed to be mitigating measures aren't rolled out as fast," the Bicolano senator said.

These numbers, according to Escudero, do not add up since the increase in income that NEDA is talking about does not take into consideration the minimum wage earners.

"I'm concerned about the minimum wage earners because they're the poor. They're the ones who need help. When you want to reduce poverty, you look at the minimum wage earners," the veteran lawmaker said.

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