Research group IBON said that the millions-surge in informal work, particularly in part-time and unpaid family, indicates that working Filipinos are going on survival mode as the living crisis intensifies. The group also said that the Marcos Jr administration’s inability to improve the economy’s capacity to generate meaningful jobs is clearly a failure of policy and government’s economic management.
While employment increased by 3.4 million to 48 million from July 2023 to August 2023, IBON said that the jobs created were mostly in precarious work with struggling Filipinos forced to make do with whatever they can find. Looking at latest labor force data by hours worked, IBON noted that the number of part-time workers spiked by a huge 2.5 million to nearly 15 million, while full-time workers only grew by 905,000 to 32.8 million.
By class of worker, wage and salary workers only grew by 87,000 to 30 million. But there were significant increases in jobs that are considered informal. For instance: the self-employed increased by 1.9 million from 11.2 million to 13.1 million, and unpaid family workers by 1.8 million from 2 million to 3.8 million. IBON estimates that total number of those in outright informal work grew by 3.5 million to 20.2 million or 42.1% of total employed in August 2023. This is comprised of the self-employed, domestic workers, and those that are employers, work with pay, and are unpaid family workers in own family-operated farm or business. This does not yet include irregular workers in private establishments who should be considered informally employed. Including them possibly increases informality to as much as 34.5 million or an overwhelming 72% of total employment.
IBON said that the economic managers’ insistence that employment quality may be improved with the strategy of foreign investment attraction is already invalidated by the phenomenon of informal work rising and overtaking gainful employment, while government has stuck to the neoliberal strategy for the last 50 years. For instance, just looking at the past 10 years alone, IBON estimates that the number of informal workers in 2012 was 18.2 million but grew to 20.6 million in 2022. The group stressed that if the Marcos Jr administration is really committed to generating meaningful employment as it claims, it should abandon the old failed market-driven policies and focus on pouring its resources into strengthening and protecting domestic agriculture and Filipino industry.