OFWs in low-skilled jobs remain RP’s top remitters, gov’t survey bares

MANILA—LABORERS and unskilled workers, mostly women, have been the country’s top remitters in the last two years.

Results from the 2008 Survey on Overseas Filipinos (SOF), done by the National Statistics Office (NSO), show that laborers and unskilled workers sent home P19.491 billion ($397.8 million at US$1=P49) last year compared to the P17.574 billion ($358.7 million) sent in 2007.

In both years, laborers and unskilled workers were the top remitters in terms of remittance volumes.

The SOF, a rider to the fourth quarter round of the NSO’s Labor Force Survey, captures overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who were in the country from April to September. The survey culls demographic information and basic details about their remittances (including amounts and transmission channels).

The biggest gainers from the year-on-year remittance volumes are trades and related workers (mostly men). From P13.220 billion in 2007, Filipinos abroad who are in these jobs sent home P18.065 billion in 2008, for a gain of P4.845 billion.

Professionals also sent home bigger money in 2008 (P13.237 billion) than in 2007 (P9.422 billion) —the difference being P3.815 billion. However, professionals are only the fifth biggest occupational group in terms of remittance volumes.

By total remittance volumes, laborers and unskilled workers and trades and related workers ranked first and second, with plant and machine operators and assemblers third (P15.55 billion) and service workers and shop and market sales workers fourth (P14.014 billion).

OFWs surveyed by the SOF in 2008 sent home P103.928 billion in cash remitted through formal and informal remittance channels, P30.53 billion in cash brought home, and P7.446 billion worth of in-kind remittances (such as items sent through the balikbayan box).

Of the P103.928 billion remitted, those sending through banks remitted P79.097 billion, while those sending through door-to-door channels remitted P12.212 billion.

Monthly data issuances of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas for the year 2008 did not explicitly credit laborers and unskilled workers, such as domestic helpers and caregivers, and trades and related workers such as those in construction, for the rise of Philippine remittance volumes.

The BSP press releases on 2008 remittances, issued March 2008 –covering January 2008 figures —and up to February 2009— covering December 2008 and the year-long total volumes–show rising monthly remittances from abroad are due to four major elements.

These are the increasing labor demand in identified countries and the skilled labor and professionals such as doctors, nurses, engineers and those in food and hotel services. The increase is also credited to the efforts of Philippine government agencies to forge deals with host countries to recruit Filipino labor, notably skilled workers, and to market Filipino workers for overseas jobs. The BSP also acknowledged the work of the private sector, in particular commercial banks, to service Filipino remitters.

The most recent BSP issuance, covering remittances in the first six months of 2009 which reached P8.479 billion, announced that some 4,000 medical workers might be recruited to Libya. It also cited government’s expansion of employment opportunities for Filipinos to work for the hotel, oil and gas, and technical services sectors in Algeria, Chad, Malta, and Morocco.

As well, BSP’s release noted the prospective hiring of production workers to Taiwan, a country whose manufacturing and electronics sectors were hit by the global economic crisis, through a special hiring program for Taiwan.

Data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) on deployed new-hire overseas workers from 1992 to 2007 (see Table 1) show that female domestic helpers are the most in number with 931,289.

Female choreographers and dancers (366,359) and female composers, musicians and singers (235,348) are the next two biggest groups of new-hire OFWs. New-hire professional nurses deployed during the 16-year period total to 107,192.#