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.

SONA 2009 notes: almost 4 M jobless a year (and it’s also understated)

In her first SONA (2001), Mrs. Arroyo declared that her economic philosophy is that “the way to fight poverty is to create jobs, not destroy them”. She even made a concrete promise to create one million new jobs in agriculture and fisheries in one year alone.
In her 2002 SONA, Mrs. Arroyo said that her working agenda will focus on creating and improving job opportunities. And she meant not simply jobs but “jobs paying decent wages”.
In her 2003 SONA, Mrs. Arroyo recognized that for the practical purposes of most people, “government exists to provide jobs”.
After making big promises on job creation and preservation, by 2004, Mrs. Arroyo was asking for “patience” from the people. In her SONA that year, she said: “We must wait in patience for the reforms to work… konti pang sakripisyo (a little more sacrifice)… because world competition is keen and we want the jobs not only to come but to stay”.
In her 2005 SONA, Mrs. Arroyo was immodest about her job generation program. Remember that a month before her SONA, the “Hello Garci” scandal broke out, triggering massive protests and calls for her ouster or resignation. Her speech thus had to be extra highfalutin about her supposed achievements. She bragged, among others, of an economy that “surprised many at home and abroad” while “generating 4 million jobs in the last four years”.
In 2006, Mrs. Arroyo acclaimed two of her most important job “creation” initiatives – business process outsourcing (BPO) and labor export. She said that with the proliferation of call centers in the country, “we not only found jobs but kept families intact”. But she was also quick to recognize that “we are a great people” because “we compete and win in every imaginable job throughout the world”.
She repeated her promotion of BPO jobs under her government in 2007, citing in her SONA speech that “the business services sector has become the fastest growing in the economy”. She said she expects the sector to become as important as labor export and that by 2010, the sector could produce $12 billion or the same amount of OFW remittances.
Her last SONA in 2008 saw Mrs. Arroyo addressing the country “at a crucial moment in world history”. The worst global economic crisis since the Great Depression started to unfold and she blamed this for undermining her supposed gains in managing the Philippine economy, including its creation of “a million new jobs”. She said to address the global challenge, the country must go on “building and buttressing bridges to allies around the world to bring in “investments to create jobs”, among others.
How can we sum up Mrs. Arroyo’s achievements in terms of job creation and preservation in the last eight years?
First, we may compare the job situation under her watch with that of her own targets or commitments.
Under the Arroyo administration, the country has been experiencing its worst jobs crisis, which has been further aggravated by the wave of massive displacements due to the impact of the global financial and economic crisis. Unemployment rate since 2001 has remained at more than 11% per year with about 4 million workers jobless every year. Annual unemployment rate under the Aquino to Estrada administrations was between 9 to 10% while the number of unemployed was between 2 to 3 million a year.
Consequently, Mrs. Arroyo has also been the most aggressive in exporting Filipino workers since the domestic job creation under her pro-globalization policies have been greatly undermined. Every year, OFW deployment under the Aquino to Estrada administrations was between 361,000 to 693,000 but under Arroyo, the figure ballooned to more than 1 million a year.
In fact, Mrs. Arroyo is the only Philippine president to categorically declare labor export as an official job creation policy of government. Administrations since Marcos have considered (at least on paper) labor export as “temporary” or “secondary” option for Filipino workers.
Second, we may compare her achievements with that of her own targets or commitments.
In her 2004 SONA, she outlined her so-called 10-point agenda. Number one on this list is the “The creation of six million jobs in six years via more opportunities given to entrepreneurs, tripling of the amount of loans for lending to small and medium enterprises and the development of one to two million hectares of land for agricultural business”. This means one million new jobs every year.
In 2004, the average number of employed workers was 31.6 million. This means that by this year, the total number of employed workers should be at least 37.6 million. Based on the official Labor Force Surveys in January and April 2009 of the National Statistics Office (NSO), the average number of employed workers this year is only 34.63 million. From 2004 to 2009, the annual average of additional jobs is only 690,000, not one million as promised by Mrs. Arroyo. And we’re only talking about official figures or “employment” as defined by government’s ridiculous standard (i.e. anyone who has worked for an hour, paid or unpaid, for the past week before the NSO conducted its survey is considered employed, etc.)
In her supposedly farewell SONA on July 27, what will she say about jobs now that the direct impact of the global crunch is starting to impact on domestic jobs as well as on OFWs?
Abangan.
4 million jobless a year

4 million jobless a year

In her first SONA (2001), Mrs. Arroyo declared that her economic philosophy is that “the way to fight poverty is to create jobs, not destroy them”. She even made a concrete promise to create one million new jobs in agriculture and fisheries in one year alone.

In her 2002 SONA, Mrs. Arroyo said that her working agenda will focus on creating and improving job opportunities. And she meant not simply jobs but “jobs paying decent wages”.

In her 2003 SONA, Mrs. Arroyo recognized that for the practical purposes of most people, “government exists to provide jobs”.

After making big promises on job creation and preservation, by 2004, Mrs. Arroyo was asking for “patience” from the people. In her SONA that year, she said: “We must wait in patience for the reforms to work… konti pang sakripisyo (a little more sacrifice)… because world competition is keen and we want the jobs not only to come but to stay”.

In her 2005 SONA, Mrs. Arroyo was immodest about her job generation program. Remember that a month before her SONA, the “Hello Garci” scandal broke out, triggering massive protests and calls for her ouster or resignation. Her speech thus had to be extra highfalutin about her supposed achievements. She bragged, among others, of an economy that “surprised many at home and abroad” while “generating 4 million jobs in the last four years”.

In 2006, Mrs. Arroyo acclaimed two of her most important job “creation” initiatives – business process outsourcing (BPO) and labor export. She said that with the proliferation of call centers in the country, “we not only found jobs but kept families intact”. But she was also quick to recognize that “we are a great people” because “we compete and win in every imaginable job throughout the world”.

She repeated her promotion of BPO jobs under her government in 2007, citing in her SONA speech that “the business services sector has become the fastest growing in the economy”. She said she expects the sector to become as important as labor export and that by 2010, the sector could produce $12 billion or the same amount of OFW remittances.

Her last SONA in 2008 saw Mrs. Arroyo addressing the country “at a crucial moment in world history”. The worst global economic crisis since the Great Depression started to unfold and she blamed this for undermining her supposed gains in managing the Philippine economy, including its creation of “a million new jobs”. She said to address the global challenge, the country must go on “building and buttressing bridges to allies around the world to bring in “investments to create jobs”, among others.

How can we sum up Mrs. Arroyo’s achievements in terms of job creation and preservation in the last eight years?

First, we may compare the job situation under her watch with that of her own targets or commitments.

Under the Arroyo administration, the country has been experiencing its worst jobs crisis, which has been further aggravated by the wave of massive displacements due to the impact of the global financial and economic crisis. Unemployment rate since 2001 has remained at more than 11% per year with about 4 million workers jobless every year. Annual unemployment rate under the Aquino to Estrada administrations was between 9 to 10% while the number of unemployed was between 2 to 3 million a year.

Consequently, Mrs. Arroyo has also been the most aggressive in exporting Filipino workers since the domestic job creation under her pro-globalization policies have been greatly undermined. Every year, OFW deployment under the Aquino to Estrada administrations was between 361,000 to 693,000 but under Arroyo, the figure ballooned to more than 1 million a year.

In fact, Mrs. Arroyo is the only Philippine president to categorically declare labor export as an official job creation policy of government. Administrations since Marcos have considered (at least on paper) labor export as “temporary” or “secondary” option for Filipino workers.

Employment indicators under the Aquino, Ramos, Estrada, and Arroyo administrations

Administration

No. of jobless workers per year (in million)

No. of deployed OFWs per year (in million)

Aquino (1987-1991)

2.3

0.36

Ramos (1992-1997)

2.6

0.46

Estrada (1998-2000)

3.2

0.69

Arroyo (2001-2008)

3.8

1.01

Compiled and processed using NSO and POEA data

Second, we may compare her achievements with that of her own targets or commitments.

In her 2004 SONA, she outlined her so-called 10-point agenda. Number one on this list is the “The creation of six million jobs in six years via more opportunities given to entrepreneurs, tripling of the amount of loans for lending to small and medium enterprises and the development of one to two million hectares of land for agricultural business”. This means one million new jobs every year.

In 2004, the average number of employed workers was 31.6 million. This means that by this year, the total number of employed workers should be at least 37.6 million. Based on the official Labor Force Surveys in January and April 2009 of the National Statistics Office (NSO), the average number of employed workers this year is only 34.63 million. From 2004 to 2009, the annual average of additional jobs is only 690,000, not one million as promised by Mrs. Arroyo. And we’re only talking about official figures or “employment” as defined by government’s ridiculous standard (i.e. anyone who has worked for an hour, paid or unpaid, for the past week before the NSO conducted its survey is considered employed, etc.)

Employed workers from 2001 to 2009 (in million)

Year

Jan

Apr

Jul

Oct

2003

30.12

30.42

29.86

31.52

2004

31.52

31.52

31.62

31.73

2005

31.63

32.22

32.52

32.88

2006

32.38

33.02

33.26

33.18

2007

33.55

33.71

33.33

33.67

2008

33.69

33.54

34.60

34.53

2009

34.26

34.99

Compiled using NSO data

In her supposedly farewell SONA on July 27, what will she say about jobs now that the direct impact of the global crunch is now being felt by domestic jobs as well as by OFWs?

Abangan.

SONA 2009 notes: 3.8 M more poor Filipinos, Gloria richer by P78 M (& they’re even understated)

GMA laban kahirapanOn her 9th State of the Nation Address (SONA), Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo would surely brag again how her administration has successfully steered the economy amid the raging global financial and economic crunch. The best argument that will dispel assertions by Arroyo of a strong and resilient economy is the reality on the ground, the grinding poverty that confronts an increasing number of Filipinos on a daily basis. Such poverty has been constantly present and ever worsening even during the decades-high GDP growth the country posted before the successive collapse of the biggest Wall Street firms and the largest TNCs in the world. Under Arroyo’s almost nine-year old term, the economic hardships facing the people have become even more pronounced because of wrong economic policies and aggravated by the global crisis.

Data cited in the table below were culled from official monitoring and reports of government agencies and it would be interesting to see how Arroyo would explain them (or distort them) to give a semblance of credibility to government’s version of the state of the nation under her illegitimate and corrupt leadership. Deregulation and privatization policies aggressively implemented by Arroyo combined with the continued operation of private cartels (both local and foreign), the continued imposition of and increases in onerous taxes such as the value added tax (VAT) have pushed prices up and the overall cost of living. Consequently, poverty continued to worsen as wages remained depressed while an increasing number of workers become jobless and underemployed.

Amid the people’s worsening poverty, which according to official poverty figures worsened by 3.8 million Filipinos between 2003 and 2006 (latest available data), Gloria Arroyo has amassed even greater wealth. (Note that such poverty figures are hugely understated considering the ridiculously low standards used by government to measure poverty.) The last row in the table below shows the declared net worth of Arroyo when she first assumed the presidency in 2001 and her latest declaration in 2008. During the said period, her declared wealth increased by P77.79 million, or almost 115 percent. Note that the said figures are the officially declared personal wealth of Arroyo and exclude all the ill-gotten wealth she and husband Mike Arroyo have accumulated through the years in Malacañang.

Indicator

Start of Arroyo’s term as president (Jan 2001, unless otherwise indicated)

Present

Retail price of LPG per 11-kg tank

P192

P440 (June 2009)

Pump price of diesel per liter

P12.62

P33.29 (June 2009)

Retail price regular-milled rice per kilo

P17.51

P30 (July 2009)

Effective rates of Meralco per kilowatt-hour

P5.13

P8.81 (May 2009)

Basic rates of water services in NCR per cubic meter

Manila Water – P2.95

Maynilad – P6.58

Manila Water – P19.64

Maynilad – P23.05

(4th quarter 2008)

Minimum wage in NCR including COLA

P213 – 250

P345 – 382

Estimated cost of living in NCR for a family of five

P509

P917 (Sep 2008)

No. of Filipinos officially considered as poor

23.8 million (2003)

27.6 million (2006)

No. of workers officially considered as jobless & underemployed

8.34 million

9.98 million (Apr 2009)

No. exported migrant workers

867,599 (2001)

1,376,823 (2008)

DECLARED NET WORTH OF GLORIA ARROYO

P66.75 million

P144.54 million (2008)

Data sources:

  1. LPG & diesel prices from the Department of Energy (DOE)
  2. Price of rice from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS)
  3. Effective Meralco rates as monitored by AGHAM
  4. Water rates from Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS)
  5. Minimum wage & cost of living (family living wage) from the National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC)
  6. Number of poor & jobless & underemployed workers from the National Statistics Office
  7. Number of exported (deployed) migrant workers from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA)
  8. Declared net worth of Gloria Arroyo from the Office of the Ombudsman