Social Issues

Almost half of Filipinos unemployed amid COVID-19 pandemic

Manila, Aug 17 (efe-epa).- Almost half of Filipino adults, some 27.3 million, are unemployed, largely due to the severe economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a survey by independent pollster Social Weather Stations (SWS).

Unemployment reached a record high of 45.5 percent, according to SWS’ latest online survey carried out in July and released on Monday.

“This is a 28-point increase from 17.5 percent in December 2019, and a new record-high since the 34.4 percent in March 2012,” the pollster said.

The previous survey, conducted in December, showed that 7.9 million Filipinos were out of work, meaning that 19.4 million more people have become unemployed since then.

Almost four out of five Filipinos (79 percent) said that their quality of life had worsened in recent months, 86 percent said they were stressed about their future, and 21 percent said they were going hungry, according to two SWS surveys published last week.

The survey published on Monday shows that 21 percent of Filipinos lost their jobs during the pandemic and a similar percentage were unemployed before COVID-19 epidemic broke in the Philippines, one of Asia’s most unequal countries where the outbreak has caused the biggest economic and social crisis in many years.

The Philippine economy shrank by 16.5 percent in the second quarter of 2020, its biggest contraction on record, which has plunged the country into recession for the first time in nearly three decades.

It is estimated that the Philippines’ gross domestic product (GDP), after having grown at an annual rate of 6 percent over the past decade, will fall this year by 5.5 percent, which could reverse gains made in poverty reduction in the country, which went from 22 percent to 16 percent during the last five years.

In mid-March, the Philippines imposed one of the world’s longest and toughest lockdowns, of almost three months, in the capital, a measure that it had to reimpose 15 days ago to contain a new wave of coronavirus infections in Manila and neighboring provinces, which account for almost 70 percent of national GDP.

In the capital, the main driver of the country’s economy, the unemployment rate soared to 43.5 percent in July, from 15 percent in December, according to the latest SWS survey.

Despite the strict lockdown, the closure of all non-essential establishments and the sealing of its borders, the Philippines is now the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in Southeast Asia, after confirming 161,253 infections – 70 percent of them recovered – and 2,665 deaths by Sunday. EFE-EPA

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