MANILA, FEBRUARY 25, 2012 (PHILSTAR) By Helen Flores - Some 9.7 million Filipinos lost their jobs in the last three months, the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showed.

The SWS poll, conducted from Dec. 3 to 7, showed that the country’s unemployment rate grew from 20.2 percent to 24 percent, representing an estimated 9.7 million Filipinos.

The SWS used face-to-face interviews of 1,200 adults and had sampling error margins of plus or minus three percentage points for national and plus or minus six points for area percentages.

Out of the 24 percent unemployed, 10 percent were retrenched, nine percent resigned and five percent were first-time jobseekers, SWS said.

The majority, or seven percent of those retrenched, did not have their contracts renewed, two percent were employees of companies that closed shop and the remaining one percent were terminated.

The findings of the SWS December 2011 poll were published in the newspaper BusinessWorld yesterday.

SWS said unemployment was slightly higher among women and the younger members of the labor force.

Unemployment dropped to 15.2 percent from 17 percent among men while it rose to 35.6 percent from 25.6 percent among women.

Unemployment also rose to 49.1 percent from 46.3 percent among those between 18 to 24 years old.

It was basically unchanged at 29.9 percent from 29.7 percent among those aged 25-34.

There was likewise an increase in unemployment to 18.7 percent from 13.7 percent for those between 35 to 44 years old, and to 17.3 percent from 13.8 percent for those aged 44 and above.

The results of the SWS poll differed from that of the National Statistics Office (NSO) which reported a 6.4 percent unemployment rate in October last year.

The unemployment rate in the latest government survey is equivalent to an estimated 2.644 million Filipinos. It was down from 7.1 percent in 2010.

The NSO said unemployment dropped below 20 percent in three out of 26 surveys from May 2005 to December 2011. The figure hit a record high 34.2 percent in February 2009.

‘Develop firm-specific skills’

Sen. Francis Escudero urged the government yesterday to focus on the development of firm-specific skills to improve employability and address the rising unemployment rate.

Escudero said figures from the Commission on Higher Education and the Department of Labor and Employment showed that aside from at least 564,000 unemployed college graduates, more than 700,000 new graduates would enter the labor market.

He said the figures confirm that more educated Filipinos find it difficult to find local employment.

“Of course, the conventional recourse is to look for jobs abroad even if the opportunities there are thinning,” he said.

Escudero added that addressing unemployment has become more urgent because overseas Filipino workers are losing their jobs amid the instability in the Middle East and the economic problems confronting the United States and Europe.

“Add to this the number of discouraged workers or those who stopped looking for work believing that there is no more available vacancy, as well as unpaid family workers. Government must implement a spending program to stimulate employment in response to this,” he said. With Christina Mendez

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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