Decent Work in the Philippines: Statistics on Adequate Earnings and Productive Work (Sixth of a Series)

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Release Date: 

Monday, July 31, 2017
The International Labor Organization (ILO) in its advocacy to promote the Decent Work Agenda describes decent work as “integral to efforts to reduce poverty and is a key mechanism for achieving equitable, inclusive and sustainable development.  Decent work involves opportunities for work that is productive and delivers a fair income, provides security in the workplace and social protection for workers and their families, and gives people the freedom to express their concerns, to organize and to participate in decisions that affect their lives”. (ILO, Country Profile, 2012, Preface)
During the UN General Assembly in September 2015, decent work and the four pillars of the Decent Work Agenda became integral elements of the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Specifically, Goal 8 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) calls for the promotion of sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all. (ILO, Decent Work – Decent Work and the SDG)
In September 2008, the ILO adopted a framework of Decent Work Indicators that was presented to the 18th International Conference of Labor Statisticians in December 2008. The Governing Body endorsed the proposal to test the framework by developing Decent Work Country Profiles to pilot countries that include the Philippines which was later made possible through the project “Monitoring and Assessing Progress on Decent Work” (MAP) in 2012, with funding from the European Union. 
The statistical measurement framework on decent work covers ten (10) substantive elements corresponding to the four (4) strategic pillars of the Decent Work Agenda, namely: employment opportunities; adequate earnings and productive work; decent hours; combining work, family and personal life; work that should be abolished; stability and security of work; equal opportunity and treatment in employment; safe work environment; social security; and, social dialogue, workers’ and employers’ representation. These elements of the decent work were analyzed in the economic and social context to help determine what constitute decency in society as well as the extent to which the achievement of decent work enhances national economic, social and labor market performance. (ILO, Country Profile, 2012)
To facilitate efficient monitoring and assessment of progress towards decent work in the country, the Philippines through the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) maintains the Decent Work Statistics Philippines (DeWS-Philippines), a one-stop web-based portal for decent work statistics to widen awareness on decent work among policymakers, labor organizations and employers, researchers and the general public as well.   
This issue of LABSTAT Updates presents statistics on another element of decent work which is Adequate Earnings and Productive Work. Specifically, six (6) statistical indicators used to monitor this particular decent work element were analyzed covering the period 1991 to 2015.  Related tables and metadata can be downloaded at the DeWS–Philippines website at
  • One of the requisites in order for work to be considered as decent is for work to provide sufficient income for the worker in order to support his or her family needs. According to the ILO, workers must have adequate income to prevent them from falling below the poverty threshold. 
  • The Philippines had identified six (6) statistical  indicators  to  monitor  the decent work element of adequate earnings and productive work, namely: working poverty rate; employees with low-pay rate; average real daily basic pay; minimum wage as a percentage of the median wage; manufacturing wage index; and number of employees with job trainings and certified employees.
I. Working Poverty Rate
  • The statistical indicator on working poverty rate is defined as total employed living in a household whose members are estimated to be below the poverty threshold, as a percentage share of total employed. It is assumed that a household cannot have poor and non-poor members; either all members are poor or all members are non-poor since poverty is a characteristic of the household. 
  • The concept of working poor or those working people whose income falls below the poverty line aims to measure employed persons who despite being employed still live in poverty. The working poverty rate in the country was reported at 21.9 percent in 2012, a decline from 22.9 percent and 22.8 percent in 2006 and 2009, respectively. (Table 1)
  • Men consistently registered a higher poverty rate than women accounting for 25.0 percent in 2009 to 24.4 percent in 2012. Women, on the other hand, posted working poverty rates ranging from 19.5 percent in 2006 to 18.1 percent in 2012.  This is somehow expected as there are generally more counts of employed men than employed women.
  • Classified by sector, the agriculture sector had the highest rate of working poor among sectors registering a high of 44.3 percent in 2009 to a low 43.5 percent in 2006. Majority of these farmers worked as subsistence farmers or those farming for their own or their own family consumption.
  • Far behind is the industry sector which posted poverty rate shares of 16.2 percent in 2009 and 13.4 percent in 2012.  The services sector, on the other hand, recorded the lowest poverty rate ranging from 11.1 percent in 2009 to 9.5 percent in2012.

Source:  Philippine Statistics Authority, Merged Files of the
              Labor Force Survey and Family Income and Expenditure Survey.

  • Among classes of workers, the unpaid family workers evidently recorded the highest working poverty rate at 37.3 percent in 2012;  39.6 percent in 2009; and 38.7 percent in 2006, respectively. (Figure 1)
  • The shares of self-employed workers and wage and salary workers classified as working poor in 2012 followed at 26.0 percent and 18.1 percent, respectively. Those workers belonging under the employers’ category posted the least share at 11.7 percent.  (Figure 1)