Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The arithmetic of joblessness

The Social Weather Station (SWS) of the Philippines recently came out with data claiming over 13 Million (13,000,000) Filipinos are currently jobless.

I was startled at the numbers! Not only is it indecent, but it spells that the country is in deep financial shit.

I say this because if I do simple arithmetic using the operations called multiplication, division, addition, and subtraction - the numbers just did not make both mathematical and logical sense.

Let's do the math.

Estimate that the current population of the Philippines is 100,000,000 (100M). This should include the total number of Filipinos living here and abroad.

Approximately 53% are less than 18 years old. Which means an approximate figure of 53,000,000. Unless we are into child labor, we need to simply deduct that number from the total population, and it gives us an estimate of 47,000,000 (47M) employable Filipinos.

According to the, approximately 2.2M (2,200,000) working Filipinos are OFWs (Overseas Foreign Workers). That makes 44.8M employable Filipinos in the Philippines.

Based on estimates, about 10% of the total population are senior citizens (compared to the 6% in 1995). Which means that about 10M Filipinos are over the age of 60 and it would be a fair estimate that only 50% are now gainfully employed or part of the labor force. That leaves about 5M Filipinos less from the 44.8M employable Filipinos in the Philippines, or a total of 39.8M (39,800,000) currently employable. Deduct the 13M unemployed and you have 26.8M employed Filipinos left.

With the data provided by SWS, this means that the rate of the Filipinos living in the Philippines now stands at 33% (13/39.8). That is a damn high number. The probability that you won't get employed in this country is 1 in 3. That's bad economics. Worst of all, when you can't do the math correctly, it's bad arithmetic.

Definition of SWS joblessness

"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 are excluded from the labor force; these are housewives, retired, disabled, students, etc."

Official definition of unemployment

"On the other hand, the official Labor Force Survey 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 either:

a. At work. Those who do any work even for 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 business but are not at work because of temporary illness/injury, vacation, or other reasons. Likewise, 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."

I guess whether you were looking at it from any administration (Arroyo to Aquino), global economics had played a role in the unemployment rate not only in other countries but in the Philippines as well, with more females being unemployed to date, than males. The stupid idea alone of having women who become pregnant later on be allowed a 6 months leave of absence is not being sexist, but being idiotic! Who in his right mind would even hire women at all if such a law existed?

And if you broke the segments by age, the chances that a new graduate would land a job by the time he or she finishes school would be 1 in every 2 graduates!

The startling data is not much different from many other countries worldwide. It is, however, sad news, considering that the Philippines has a very large young population and that we are a developing country.

The statistical data provided are painful to accept. As in many statistical data, they may not be exactly accurate but more or less is a good approximation of what the current job market is. And the job market is always reflective of the economy of a nation.

With these constraints and this data, there needs to be action from the government - and the public learning to bite reality because this is as real as it gets.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Of faith and miracles

January was a busy month. It was also the month where there were various religious celebrations throughout the Philippines.

With over 85% christians, the Philippines is the biggest Catholic nation in Asia. This perhaps accounts for the frenetic religious celebrations enjoyed throughout the 7,107 islands almost all year round.

In January, the highlight is the Feast of the Black Nazarene and the Feast of the Santo Nino. Then you have the longest holy week in the world. The Filipinos look forward to the holy week by filing their vacation leaves early and trekking to either the province or some nearby country that hosts Mickey, Minnie and Donald Duck. Then there's also the Flores de Mayo, where the Santacruzan and the parade and charade of Emperatriz and their male escorts come a prancing, a dancing, and a glancing along the already crowded streets of the cities. This is followed by the long trek to the dead as All Saints Day and All Souls Day approach in November. This is the Philippines answer to Thanksgiving Day in the United States. Finally, the country enjoys one of the longest Christmas in the planet! Work is abandoned by the 23rd of December (yes, we do not work on the 24th) and hie off to some forsaken place and spend in wild abandon the 13th month pay and Christmas bonuses (which are integral in the payslip of all employers and employees) and return after the merry making on the 3rd of January. Then the cycle repeats itself.

Students and teachers from Catholic schools enjoy more respites in between. Each time a saint celebrates their special day, it's no classes in our country.

So why do I want to talk about faith and miracles in my February blog entry?

First, let me make it clear that I am not bashing my religion.

I understand how some of my friends and colleagues felt during the last Feast of the Black Nazarene. All roads leading to and from Luneta to Quiapo literally was at a stand still. For that very short distance, the procession lasted more than 19 hours, several container vans weighing tons were lifted and moved from the street because of the large crowd, and the streets were laden with litter from the devotees that flocked to the scene.

The number of people that came to the procession, mass and celebration was estimated between 10-12 Million. Mind boggling - considering that this number topped the number of people who came to see the Pope (John Paul II) on World Youth Day in 1995.

Are there really 12 Million devotees to the Black Nazarene?

I really don't know. When I was watching the news on TV, I couldn't believe at the crowd and the mayhem. Beside me was my mom. And she told me a story:

"When you were still in my womb, I almost had a miscarriage. I was bleeding profusely that your grandmother was so scared that we would lose you. After all, you are the first of all the grandchildren she will ever have. Your grandmother went to the Quiapo Church and crawled kneeling down to the altar and begged the Lord for a miracle - that I would survive this, and you would live. A few days later, maybe because of the medicines and the prayers, the bleeding stopped. Your grandmother made me promise that after you were born, that I would be devoted to the Black Nazarene for the next 2 years."

I was startled at the story. It was the first time I had heard about this. And I quietly watched the news again.

And I understood...that it was faith and small miracles like these that mattered most. Never mind the inconvenience for the day. There are just things in life that are kept between God and His works at making us realize that He is part of our lives.