Number of Filipinos who can work but don't: 29.1 MILLION!

According to a report released by the Philippine Central Bank (BSP), remittances by overseas workers to the Philippines was supposedly the "highest monthly level so far recorded". This was reported by the as due to a "robust demand by foreign companies for Filipino skilled and professional workers".

But then the National Statistics Office (NSO) for its part seemed to beg to differ on how "skilled" these "professional" workers are, citing how one in three Filipino workers are "unskilled".

NSO employment and population figures further highlight how the mere existence of an immense number of Filipinos despite being able-bodied enough contribute negatively to the national product:

Number of Filipinos aged above 15 years: 61.2 million
Number of Filipinos in the workforce: 39.3 million

Shortfall: 61.2m - 39.3m = 21.9 million

Translation for those who are a bit slow: There are 21.9 million Filipinos who can work, but aren't.

What exactly are 21.9 million able-bodied Filipinos doing?

That is not a really hard question given that this is the Philippines we are talking about here, so I won't go much into that. I'll leave us with this though: Even if the entire $18 billion in OFW remittances (forecast annualised) is channeled towards supporting these 21.9 million unproductive souls, that works out to a paltry $822 per capita income per annum. Then again, a bunch of folk who sit around on their bums all days texting their friends and singing karaoke probably don't need that much money to begin with.

The point I want to make (which I think I've already achieved, at this point) is more around how meaningless headlines like "OFW remittances surge to $15.46B" are.


  1. Did you happen to notice that in the sidebar of the rosy article about remittances is a headline about how the unemployment rate went up? Sublime.

    Actually Gulf News shaved it a little, it should be 61.7 million.

    Here's a couple interesting tidbits from the latest Labor Force Survey --

    *The proportion of the workforce working less than full-time has grown half a percent in the last year.

    *43.8% of those looking for work have been at it for 12 months or more (although that figure has dropped a bit y-o-y).

    *Private sector employment has declined 1.7%, while the government sector has grown by 1.1%.

    *The part of the labor force that would fall into the "unskilled" or "semi-skilled" category has grown by about 1%.

    Make of that what you will.

  2. What's 500,000 Filipinos between friends? That part about the 43.8% on their 12th or more month looking for work is the disturbing bit. I read somewhere that past the eighth month of job hunting is usually when a person's psyche tips over into a long-term unemployed mentality.

    Then a double whammy -- growing unemployment and the proportion of unskilled amongst that unemployed growing as well. I thought education was a priority (or any administration for that matter)?

  3. What about the number of Filipinos who are in their School Age (15-22).

    the equation should be:

    Number of Filipinos Age 22 and above minus number of in the workforce.

  4. That's fair enough, Aaron. Let's say tightening the criteria reduces the number from 29.1 million to just, say, 10 million. That's twice the population of Singapore -- a country that has an economy more than 12% bigger than the Philippine economy.


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