Post-SONA notes: Gloria’s statistically incoherent 8 M jobs

Mrs. Arroyo delivering her SONA 2009 speech (Reuters photo)

Mrs. Arroyo delivering her SONA 2009 speech (Reuters photo)

She promised one million new jobs a year but critics are one in saying that the jobs crisis is at its worst under her administration.

To silence her critics and justify her regime, did Mrs. Gloria Arroyo ask government statisticians to give her, at all cost, “one million jobs a year” that she can cite in her State of the Nation Address (SONA)?

On her ninth and ostensibly final SONA last July 27, Mrs. Arroyo declared:

“Lumikha tayo ng walong milyong trabaho, an average of a million per year, much, much more than at any other time”.

Throughout the much anticipated SONA speech, it was the only reference that Mrs. Arroyo made to her job generation efforts. But it was a major statement which concretely summed up the supposed gains of the Arroyo administration in creating jobs since 2001.

I immediately wondered where Mrs. Arroyo’s speech writers got the figure of 8 million jobs. Official employment records released by the National Statistics Office (NSO) do not add up to 8 million additional jobs since 2001. Thus, I tried to find the explanation in the Technical Report that usually accompanies the SONA of Mrs. Arroyo but as of this writing, such report has not been made public yet.

Further research revealed an interesting discovery. On the website of the Bureau of Labor and Employment Statistics (BLES), an announcement on “Methodology in computing employment creation under President Arroyo administration: 2001-2009 (April)” is posted.

The BLES also posted a link on a resolution of the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB), Resolution No. 9 “approving and adopting the official methodology for generating annual labor and employment estimates”.

The announcement and the NSCB resolution on the BLES website, which were posted after the SONA, are attempts to “statistically” explain the 8 million jobs Mrs. Arroyo cited. But instead of providing satisfactory answers, they exposed the brazen lie behind the SONA claim on jobs created by the Arroyo administration.

NSCB Resolution No. 9 was supposedly approved on July 6, or three weeks before the SONA. It stated that in generating annual labor and employment estimates, the average estimates of the four rounds of Labor Force Survey (LFS) shall be used. The NSO conducts the LFS every January, April, July, and October.

Using this official methodology, the BLES computed employment creation under the Arroyo administration and arrived at the figure of 8.095 million jobs. (See Table)She promised one million new jobs a year but critics are one in saying that the jobs crisis is at its worst under her administration.
To silence her critics and justify her regime, did Mrs. Gloria Arroyo ask government statisticians to give her, at all cost, “one million jobs a year” that she can cite in her State of the Nation Address (SONA)?
On her ninth and ostensibly final SONA last July 27, Mrs. Arroyo declared:
“Lumikha tayo ng walong milyong trabaho, an average of a million per year, much, much more than at any other time”.
Throughout the much anticipated SONA speech, it was the only reference that Mrs. Arroyo made to her job generation efforts. But it was a major statement which concretely summed up the supposed gains of the Arroyo administration in creating jobs since 2001.
I immediately wondered where Mrs. Arroyo’s speech writers got the figure of 8 million jobs. Official employment records released by the National Statistics Office (NSO) do not add up to 8 million additional jobs since 2001. Thus, I tried to find the explanation in the Technical Report that usually accompanies the SONA of Mrs. Arroyo but as of this writing, such report has not been made public yet.
Further research revealed an interesting discovery. On the website of the Bureau of Labor and Employment Statistics (BLES), an announcement on “Methodology in computing employment creation under President Arroyo administration: 2001-2009 (April)” is posted.
The BLES also posted a link on a resolution of the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB), Resolution No. 9 “approving and adopting the official methodology for generating annual labor and employment estimates”.
The announcement and the NSCB resolution on the BLES website, which were posted after the SONA, are attempts to “statistically” explain the 8 million jobs Mrs. Arroyo cited. But instead of providing satisfactory answers, they exposed the brazen lie behind the SONA claim on jobs created by the Arroyo administration.
NSCB Resolution No. 9 was supposedly approved on July 6, or three weeks before the SONA. It stated that in generating annual labor and employment estimates, the average estimates of the four rounds of Labor Force Survey (LFS) shall be used. The NSO conducts the LFS every January, April, July, and October.
Using this official methodology, the BLES computed employment creation under the Arroyo administration and arrived at the figure of 8.095 million jobs. (See Table)

But here’s the rub.

BLES defined employment creation as the annual increments in number of employed workers. Mrs. Arroyo said in her SONA speech that the jobs created reached 8 million or one million per year. Thus, it means the annual increments from 2001 to 2008.

Applying the NSCB Resolution No. 9 and the BLES-defined employment creation on the period 2001 to 2008, the jobs “created” is only 6.64 million. But Mrs. Arroyo needed 8 million. The solution – add the increment in the number of employed for 2009.

For consistency, the BLES should have computed the average estimates for the January and April LFS (the July and October rounds are not yet available) but this will only produce 535,000 jobs and the number needed is at least 1.36 million. To address this, the BLES instead compared the difference between the April 2009 LFS and the April 2008 LFS and found its needed figure – 1.46 million.

So, they arrived at a statistically incoherent 8 million jobs – the sum of the annual increments in the average employment results of four LFS rounds per year from 2001 to 2008 plus the increase in the number of employed between the April LFS rounds in 2008 and 2009.

Actually, BLES further statistically distorted the meaning of job creation by simply adding up the increments in the number of employed workers per year. It did not factor in the increase in the number of unemployed which should have been subtracted from the increase in the number of employed to arrive at “net job creation”. Using this methodology, we will arrive at a smaller job creation figure of around 5.92 million from 2001 to 2008.

This is how they gave Mrs. Arroyo her 8 million jobs created, or one million jobs per year.

These issues are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of government’s systematic efforts to hide job scarcity through flawed methodologies and distorted labor and employment definitions. For instance, we did not discuss yet the kind of jobs supposedly generated since 2001 – are they productive, gainful, secure, etc.?

Government agencies are expected to generate credible and reliable data and statistics to help guide in policy making and development planning. That they are being used to conjure illusions of prosperity only shows the extent of desperation of the Arroyo administration to justify its illegitimate and prolonged rule.

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