Informal sector operators counted at 10.5 million (Results from the 2008 Informal Sector Survey)

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Release Date: 

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

There were about 10.5 million informal sector operators identified in the 2008 Informal Sector Survey (2008 ISS) of the Philippines. This nationwide survey was conducted by the National Statistics Office with funding assistance provided by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP).

Informal sector operators are either self-employed without any paid employee or employer in own-family operated farm or business. The self-employed numbered about 9.1 million while the employer numbered at 1.3 million.

Two-thirds of informal sectors were male. Seventy-five percent or three-fourth of the IS operators were in age group 35 years old and over, the largest was age group 35-44 (27.5%). Meanwhile, age group 15-24 reported the least share (5.2%).

Four out of ten IS operators attained at most elementary level. Those who had attained high school level comprised 36.2 percent while about 17.7 percent had reached college level. About two-thirds of IS operators were household heads.

By place of work, more than 40 percent of IS operators worked in the farm or individual agricultural/subsidiary plot. About 16.5 percent of IS operators worked at home with space inside/attached to the home.

When asked about their job satisfaction, six out of ten IS operators answered that they were satisfied in their job or business. Only 1.7 percent of IS operators were very unsatisfied in their job or business.

Among the various occupation groups, operators working as farmers, forestry workers and fishermen comprised 47.4 percent of the total informal sector. Those belonging to the group of managing proprietors were the second largest group accounting for 31.2 percent.

Of the 10.5 million IS operators counted in 2008, 41.3 percent were engaged in agriculture, hunting and forestry. IS operators in wholesale and retail trade accounted for more than one-fourth (29.6 percent) of the total IS operators while those in transport, storage and communications, about 10 percent.

More than ten percent (11.1%) of IS operators were in CALABARZON followed by IS operators in Central Luzon and Western Visayas with 8.3 percent and 8.1 percent, respectively. On the other hand, CAR reported the smallest proportion of IS operators (1.5%).


The 2008 Informal Sector Survey (ISS) is a nationwide data collection operation by the National Statistics Office, in collaboration with United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP). It aims at putting in place a system of 2-step surveys related to the evaluation of employment of informal sector enterprises. This is the first nationwide survey of informal sector conducted by the NSO.

The 2008 ISS adopted the sampling design of the 2003 MS whish was a stratified, multi-stage sampling design. The 2003 MS uses barangay or a group of contiguous barangay as primary sampling unit (PSU) and enumeration area (EA) as secondary sampling unit (SSU). Sample PSUs and sample SSUs were both selected with probability proportional to size (PPS). The number of households based on Census 2000 count was used as measure of size. The entire MS was divided into four sub-sample or independent replicate.

The 2008 ISS enumeration was conducted in two phases. The first phase used a 4-page questionnaire designed to provide data for estimating employment in informal sector enterprises and to provide data for estimating informal employment and was conducted from April 8 to 30, 2008 as rider to the April 2008 Labor Force Survey (LFS). The second phase used an 8-page questionnaire designed to obtain data for estimating the contribution of informal sector enterprises to total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and was conducted from May 1 to 15, 2008 in about 497 PSUs. This press release covers only the results in Phase 1 for IS operators based on their primary job.

The reporting unit is the household, which means that the statistics from this survey refer to the characteristics of the population residing in private households. Persons who reside in institutions and establishments are not within the coverage of the survey.

The standard error can be used to calculate confidence intervals within which the true value for the population can reasonably be assumed to fall. For example, for any given statistic calculated from a sample survey, the value of that statistic will fall within a range of plus or minus two times the standard error of that statistic in 95 percent of all possible samples of the same size and design.