LIMITED job opportunities may explain the recent increase in self-rated poverty, as reported by the Social Weather Stations (SWS), according to a New York-based think tank.
In a brief, Global Source Partners Country Analyst Diwa C. Guinigundo said the rise in self-poverty is a major challenge for economic growth.
Based on the SWS survey, the increase in self-rated poverty could be explained by the rise in consumer prices. However, Guinigundo said the increase in food process is not consistent with the rise in food-poor families.
“Other than inflation, it could only be the limited job opportunities that could explain the survey results,” explained Guinigundo, formerly deputy governor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. “Unemployment statistics does not include those who have given up looking for work because their skills set does not jibe with the requirements of the industry.”
Guinigundo said the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) can focus its programs in areas where poverty, self-rated poverty, is high in this case to improve their access to better labor opportunities.
Still, the labor department’s initiative would fall short if other national agencies fail to pitch in to increase job generation, address supply side constraints and improve infrastructure to alleviate self-rated poverty, according to the former BSP official.
ACCORDING to Guinigundo, the “bigger challenge is for the departments in charge of agriculture, trade and industry and infrastructure to begin to pivot to these areas.
“They need to concentrate the use of public money to directly addressing those structural imbalances that prevent a more significant breakthrough in poverty alleviation after all these years,” he added.
Citing SWS data, the analyst said 48 percent of Filipino families felt poor while 27 percent felt they are in the borderline of being poor. About 25 percent felt they are not poor.
Guinigundo said the percentage of Filipino families who felt poor rose by 3 percentage points (ppts) from 45 percent in June 2023 while the percentage of those who felt they are in the borderline declined by 6 ppts from 33 percent and families who felt they are not poor at all improved by 3 ppts from 22 percent.
The data also showed, Guinigundo said, that the number of self-rated poor families at 13.2 million, an increase of 5.6 percent from 12.5 million in June 2023.
Guinigundo added that “if blown up,” this would mean that around 12 percent of the country’s population of about 113 million could be considered poor.
“Linking these survey results to both the real and labor market situation, one can argue that despite some improvement in the available job opportunities this year, the sustained elevated inflation continues to affect the purchasing power of the Filipino population,” the analyst said.