President Gloria Arroyo’s seven years in office has brought record levels of joblessness as well as falling family incomes, according to independent think-tank IBON Foundation.
According to IBON research head Sonny Africa, historical levels of joblessness were registered under the Arroyo administration since 2001. In 2007, there were 4.1 million jobless Filipinos and an annual average unemployment rate of 10.8 percent. Although 2007 figures were a slight improvement from 2006, the average annual unemployment rate of 11.3% over the 2001-2007 period remains the worst such period recorded in the country’s history, Africa said.
Moreover, most jobs created in 2007 were in domestic household help, followed by the transport, storage and communication sector, wholesale and retail trade, real estate, rental and business activities (which include business process outsourcing) and construction. Africa pointed out that in general, these are the lowest-paying and most insecure jobs in the country. For example, household help would be lucky to earn P3,000 to P3,500 a month, he said.
Since 2001 Filipinos’ incomes have also continued to fall throughout the Arroyo administration. Figures from the 2006 Family Income and Expenditure Survey show that average family income for all families in real terms (at base year 2000) fell by P20,400 between 2000 and 2006. For the poorest 10% of the country’s families, this meant a decline in annual income to P23,000 in 2006 from P25,000 in 2000. Since incomes were insufficient to meet their expenses, there was an annual debt of P1,700 per household in 2006.
Inequality also remained high in 2006, as the richest 20% of the country’s richest families account for nearly 53% of total family income, while the poorest 20% share less than 5% of total family incomes