Thursday, May 14, 2009

Arroyo gov’t accused of hiding real state of unemployment in the country

14 May 2009

The militant labor party-list group, Partido ng Manggagawa (PM), demanded official explanations from the Arroyo government on why there was such a large gap between the official survey results conducted by the National Statistics Office (NSO) on unemployment and the one conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS).

According to PM chair Renato Magtubo, the very large gap between the 34.2% adult unemployment rate in SWS’ February 2009 survey and the 7.7% unemployment rate in NSO’s January 2009 survey warrants an explanation because such a large difference in representative numbers might lead to the discovery of an awful truth: that government employment statistics do not reveal the truth.

The SWS survey also revealed that compared with previous administrations, the Arroyo administration has the highest adult unemployment rate, from 8.4% in March 2001 to 34.2% in February 2009. The Ramos administration had a 14.6% in September 1993 down to 8.8% in March 1998. The Estrada administration had 10.0% in July 1998 slightly up to 11.5% a month before his downfall in January 2001.

“Based on this SWS record, it is under the Arroyo administration that the country’s unemployment rate is in ‘record-high’ and she was the same President who promised to create 10 million jobs under her term,” recalled Magtubo.

In actual numbers, the SWS survey results showed some 14 million unemployed adult persons (18 years and above) in February compared to only 2.85 million (15 years and above) in NSO’s January survey.

The SWS survey also showed that some 12% (or 1.68 million of the 14 million unemployed) were due to retrenchment or non-renewal of contracts. At the onset of the global financial crisis, the labor group has been raising doubts on the veracity of government’s report on mass layoffs.

“Obviously there are 11 million unemployed Filipinos here who were either out of NSO radars during the survey period or were recorded as employed during that one month difference,” lamented Magtubo who maintains the view that the unemployment figures in the country are being “doctored” or altered to hide the sad state of the economy.

The labor leader argued further that even if the 15-17 age group which is missing in the SWS sample is included, that age bracket can hardly inflate that big difference since the same NSO data showed that for every 10 unemployed persons, 5 or 49.2% belong to the age group 15-24. This means that out of NSO’s 2.85 million total unemployed persons, only 1.4 million belong to age group 15-24.

“Will the government explain this? Were there 11 million Filipinos who where out of coverage during the NSO survey but who were present during the SWS survey a month later. Or there was an official instruction to cover up or hide the real numbers to save someone’s face?,” asked Magtubo.

The former partly-list representative added that the labor movement has been very critical of the government’s methodology in reporting employment statistics as numbers usually do not reflect the actual situation in the real world.

“The government has for several times changed the employment definition which in effect reduced the number of unemployed by more than a million in official statistics since 2005, but not in the actual numbers of Filipinos who are definitely out of work,” concludes Magtubo who agreed with the SWS findings that the country’s unemployment rate were not lower than 20% since 2005.

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