Denounce government data massaging to downplay severe unemployment
The Filipino people must denounce government data massaging to downplay the real extent of the jobless crisis. The press statements of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) and the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) paint a false picture of an improving employment situation in the country by focusing on the percentages and downplaying the absolute numbers of jobless workers.
The claim that unemployment dropped to its lowest level at 6.9% last July from 7.7% last June deceptively obscures the fact that the number of workers with jobs was 3.4 million less during the same period. The same survey said that the number of employed workers dropped from 45.1 million in June to 41.7 million in July.
The real extent of joblessness in the Philippines is also attenuated by classifying people as underemployed which rose to the highest level of 8.7 million since the pandemic. These are workers who have turned to temporary and contractual jobs, including around 1.5 million delivery riders, who do not make enough income and whose labor rights are relentlessly violated.
Duterte’s economic managers are masters of statistical deception. They massage the data to convey a message that is completely detached from reality. They make it appear that unemployment is becoming less severe by simply not counting millions of jobless workers by classifying them as “not in the labor force.”
The PSA statistics itself pointed out that the labor force participation rate in July 2021 dropped to 59.8% or 2.67 million “dropped” from the 63.2% in April 2021. The July data is the lowest since the outset of the pandemic last year. The worst drop in employment is in the agricultural sector (1.7 million jobs loss), likely as a result of the rice liberalization law and other policies causing economic displacement of farm workers.
This statistical sleight of hand has the effect of making jobless workers think that they are alone or that only a few of them are suffering from what is in fact a severe jobs crisis in the country due to the regime’s economic policies and priorities.
Workers and the mass of unemployed must protest this deception and amplify their call for more jobs and an end to the job-killing neoliberal policies of the Duterte regime and heighten their call for genuine national industrialization and genuine land reform.