PSA: Poverty rate grew to 18.1% in 2021

·2 min read
This general view shows new highrise buildings (behind) under construction next to low income housing (foreground) erected near a river at the mouth of Manila Bay on June 8, 2022. The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported on August 15, that poverty incidence in the country rose to 18.1 percent in 2021, up from 16.7 percent in 2018.  (Photo by TED ALJIBE/AFP via Getty Images)
This general view shows new highrise buildings (behind) under construction next to low income housing (foreground) erected near a river at the mouth of Manila Bay on June 8, 2022. The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported on August 15, that poverty incidence in the country rose to 18.1 percent in 2021, up from 16.7 percent in 2018. (Photo by TED ALJIBE/AFP via Getty Images)

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) announced 2021’s national poverty statistics on Monday (August 15), revealing that the number of Filipinos under the poverty threshold increased from 17.67 million in 2018 to 19.99 million in 2021.

In terms of families, the figure went from 3 million to 3.5 million, indicating that half a million more families became poor over the three year period since 2018.

These statistics reflected on the nation’s poverty incidence, with the proportion of poor families going from 12.1 percent to 13.2 percent, and the proportion of poor individuals from 16.7 to 18.1 percent, from 2018 to 2021.

The poverty threshold for a family of five also increased from P10,756 to P12,030. As of writing, the National Capital Region (NCR) minimum wage for the non-agriculture sector is at P570 a day, or P11,400 for 20 working days.

"Food poor" families also increased by 200,000, while "food poor" individuals increased by 1.01 million.

In between the two periods, the Philippines underwent lockdown in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A recent Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey released on Aug. 2 showed that nearly half of Filipinos feel poor. Out of 1,500 adult respondents polled from June 26 to 29 this year, 48% rate themselves as “poor,” while 31% said that they’re “borderline poor,” and 21% rated themselves as “not poor.”

Meanwhile, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan has claimed that the Philippines is on its way to becoming an upper-middle-income country by 2024 if the current economic growth is sustained.

Balisacan said on July 26 that the Marcos administration is also aiming to reduce poverty incidence to single-digit or 9% by the end of Marcos’s term in 2028.

"At the rate we’re going we should be reaching that minimum of $4,250 in 2024. By that time we will become a member of the upper middle-income class," said Balisacan, who is also the current National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) director-general.

Mark Ernest Famatigan is a news writer who focuses on Philippine politics. He is an advocate for press freedom and regularly follows developments in the Philippine economy. The views expressed are his own.

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