2018 Annual Labor and Employment Situation in ARMM

January 25, 2019Special Release Ref No.: SR-ARMM-2019-005

In 2018, ARMM ranked 14th out of 17 regions in the Philippines and 5th out of 6 regions in Mindanao in terms of working-age population or population age 15 years old and over, as shown in Figure 1. This population group in the region increased by 29.59 percent during this period, from 1,844,000 in 2017 to 2,390,000 in 2018. This is the second highest growth rate in the country between 2018 and 2017, next to that of Region XI (36.93 percent). 

Figure 1. Population 15 years and over, Philippines, by Region: 2017 - 2018
Source: Philippine Statistics Authority

Labor Force 

Labor Force refers to the working-age population who contribute to the production of goods and services in the country. It comprises the employed and unemployed. Moreover, Labor Force Participation Rate (LFPR) is the percentage of the total number of persons in the labor force to the total population 15 years old and over. 

Figure 2 shows that ARMM recorded an LPFR of 46.6 percent in 2018 (0.5 percentage point higher than that of 2017). This means that less than half of the working-age population in the region contributes to the economic activities of the country. This is the lowest LPFR recorded in the country, followed by Region IX and Region III with LPFRs of 56.3 percent and 59.9 percent, respectively. 

Figure 2. Percent Distribution of Population 15 Years Old and Over, ARMM: 2018
Source: Philippine Statistics Authority


Employed persons consist of those in the labor force who are reported either as at work or with a job or business although not at work. Persons at work are those who did some work, even for an hour during the reference period. Employment rate is the proportion of employed persons to the total labor force. About 96.3 percent of ARMM’s labor force is employed in 2018, as shown in Figure 3. This is the second highest employment rate recorded in the country, next to Region II. 

On the other hand, 3.7 percent (unemployment rate) of the region’s labor force are reported as unemployed or persons (1) without work; and (2) currently available for work; and (3) seeking work or not seeking work because of the belief that no work is available, or awaiting results of previous job application, or because of temporary illness or disability, bad weather or waiting for rehire or job recall. 

Figure 3. Percent Distribution of Labor Force, ARMM: 2018
Source: Philippine Statistics Authority

Underemployed refers to the employed persons who express the desire to have additional hours of work in their present job or an additional job, or have a new job with longer working hours. Moreover, underemployment rate is the proportion of underemployed persons to total employed persons. In 2018, about 8.4 percent of the employed persons are considered as underemployed. 


1. General Background 

The stability and growth of a country’s economy hinges on its ability to produce goods and services for both domestic and international use. Labor represents an important factor of production, hence, the improvement of the quality of the labor force and efforts to make it more productive and responsive to growth are necessary for the development of the economy.  A clear knowledge and understanding of the size, composition and other characteristics of the segment of the population is a big step in this direction.  A continuing supply of the data on labor force is indispensable to national and local development planning. 

The Labor Force Survey (LFS) is a nationwide quarterly survey of households conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) to gather data on the demographic and socio-economic characteristics of the population. 

1.1 Objectives of the Survey 

The LFS aims to provide a quantitative framework for the preparation of plans and formulation of policies affecting the labor market. 

Specifically, the survey is designed to provide statistics on levels and trends of employment, unemployment and underemployment for the country, as a whole, and for each of the administrative regions.

1.2 Scope and Coverage of the Survey 

Starting July 1987, the LFS used a new questionnaire design and adopted modifications in the concepts and definitions for measuring labor force and employment characteristics. The design was based on a past week reference period and the new concept on “availability and looking for work” was adopted.

The questionnaire was revised in January 2001 with the inclusion of questions on salaries and wages, new entrants, and other occupations, among others.  It was further revised in January 2002 with the inclusion of the line number of respondent and a screening question, whether the household member has another job or business during the past week.  Also, items of inquiry that were deemed necessary to adequately capture the availability criterion and to reflect the reference period for identifying the discouraged workers were incorporated in the LFS questionnaire in April 2005. These changes were needed to adopt the international standard definition of unemployment.  Some questions on the elements of decent work were also included such as reasons for working more than 48 hours, as well as questions for children on their attendance to school. 

Starting April 2016 round, the Labor Force Survey (LFS) adopted the 2013 Master Sample Design, with a sample size of approximately 44,000 households.  The population projections based on the 2010 Census of Population and Housing (CPH) has also been adopted to generate the labor force statistics.  Starting January 2017 round, Computer Aided Personal Interviewing (CAPI) using Tablet was utilized in the LFS enumeration.

The survey involved the collection of data on demographic and socio-economic characteristics of the population in general.  The reporting unit was the household which implied that the statistics emanating from this survey referred to the characteristics of the population residing in private households.  Persons who reside in institutions are not within the scope of the survey. 

2. Concepts, Definitions and Explanations 

This section presents the important concepts used in the LFS. Concepts and definitions mentioned in previous Integrated Survey of Households (ISH) series are, in most cases, the same as the ones presented here. 

2.1 Barangay 

A barangay is the smallest political subdivision in the country, several of which comprise one city or municipality.  For purposes of enumeration in the LFS, a barangay is considered the basic geographic enumeration area. 

2.2 Household

A household is an aggregate of persons, generally but not necessarily bound by ties of kinship, who sleep in the same dwelling unit and have common arrangements for the preparation and consumption of food.  Members comprise the head of the household, relatives living with him, and other persons who share the community life for reasons of work or other consideration.  A person who lives alone is considered a separate household. 

2.3 Reference Period

The reference period for this survey is the “past week” referring to the past seven (7) days preceding the date of visit of the enumerator or interviewer. 

2.4 Employment Status Concepts 

2.4.1 Population 15 Years Old and Over 

This refers to number of population 15 years old and over excluding overseas workers.  Overseas workers are excluded in the estimation of the size of working population (population aged 15 years and over) since the data on their economic characteristics are not collected because they are not considered part of the labor force in the country. 

2.4.2 In the Labor Force or Economically Active Population

This refers to persons 15 years old and over who are either employed or unemployed in accordance with the definitions described as follows. 

2.4.3 Employed

Employed persons include all those who, during the reference period are 15 years old and over as of their last birthday and are reported either: 

a. At work. Those who do any work even for one hour during the reference period for pay or profit, or work without pay on the farm or business enterprise operated by a member of the same household related by blood, marriage or adoption; or

b. With a job but not at work. Those who have a job or business but are not at work because of temporary illness or injury, vacation or other reasons. Likewise, persons who expect to report for work or to start operation of a farm or business enterprise within two weeks from the date of the enumerator’s visit are considered employed. 

2.4.4 Underemployed

Underemployed persons include all employed persons who express the desire to have additional hours of work in their present job, or an additional job, or to have a new job with longer working hours.  Visibly underemployed persons are those who work for less than 40 hours during the reference period and want additional hours of work. 

2.4.5 Unemployed

Unemployed persons include all those who, during the reference period, are 15 years old and over as of their last birthday and reported as: 

a) Without work, i.e., had no job or business during the reference period; and 

b) Currently available for work, i.e., were available and willing to take up work in paid employment or self-employment during the reference period, and/or would be available and willing to take up work in paid employment or self-employment within two weeks after the interview date; and 

c) Seeking work, i.e., had taken specific steps to look for a job or establish a business during the reference period, or not seeking work due to the following reasons: (1) tired or believed no work available, i.e., discouraged workers; (2) awaiting results of previous job application; (3) temporary illness or disability; (4) bad weather; and/or (5) waiting for rehire or job recall. 

2.4.6 Persons Not in the Labor Force


(Chief Statistical Specialist)