By Hanie Andrade
The Philippines went through a lot in Q4 2020. Not only did the people have to worry about the rising number of COVID-19 cases, but the effects that natural disasters brought upon those affected was another area that required immediate attention.
Typhoons such as Quinta, Rolly, and Ulysses caused mass destruction in the areas that it had affected. Add in the restrictive measures brought about by COVID-19, and it became even harder to recover from these damages.
To name a few, Typhoon Quinta, Typhoon Rolly, and Typhoon Ulysses were the most destructive typhoons of the year (OCHA, 2021). 50,000 farmers and fishermen were deeply affected by the destruction brought about by these disasters. 145,777 metric tons of agricultural goods were wiped out by Typhoon Quinta — of which are estimated to be worth PHP 2.56 billion. Typhoon Rolly’s damages were estimated to be worth PHP 2 billion, wiping out 116,962 metric tons of goods (Rivas, 2020).
Looking at the national income accounts, Q4 GDP growth proved to be much better as opposed to those from Q3. With the easing of restrictions and seasonal spending, GDP growth rose from -11.4 percent in Q3 to -8.3 percent in Q4. Looking at the full-year GDP growth, the economy was said to have declined by -9.5 percent — a number that was on the lower end of the government’s target range. According to NEDA, this is the largest annual decline since the 1946 series (NEDA, n.d.).
Following that the Philippines met the lower end of the target range, the country continues to lag behind its fellow Asian neighbors. Countries such as China and Vietnam saw expansions, with real GDP growths at 6.5 percent and 4.5 percent respectively. Following the demand aspect of the economy, the Q4 GDP was mainly driven by improvements in private consumption and investments.
Looking into the employment situation during October, the labor force participation rate has declined by 3.2 percent in comparison to July 2020’s data. This was marked as the second-lowest rate recorded, with April 2020 being the lowest at 55.7 percent. 58.7 percent or 43.6 million Filipinos were recorded as either employed or unemployed according to the PSA. On the bright side, the unemployment rate continued to see a decline, dropping to 8.7 percent in comparison to July’s 10 percent and April’s 17.6 percent. In particular, NCR was reported to have the highest unemployment rate at 12.4 percent. It is this region, in particular, that is one of the most affected areas by the pandemic (PSA, 2020).
Asides from looking into the Q4 2020 situation of the economy and employment, how has the pandemic affected badly hit members of the nation, in particular, low-income families? There are two particular areas in which low-income families were affected by the spread of the virus; children of these families had to undergo adjustments with regards to how their education was being delivered to them and there was a decrease in the children’s visits to healthcare facilities.
Children of low-income families faced many barriers when faced with the struggles brought by distance learning. There was a lack of resources, students struggled to understand the modules that they were given, and it was difficult for children to maintain a level of focus needed when studying the given material (The World Bank, 2021). While it is not just children from low-income families that struggle to learn during this setting, they are the most affected as they do not have the necessary resources that could aid them in their learning during this pandemic.
Following the contractions seen in the previous quarters (Q2 and Q3) of the year 2020, Q4 has seen an improvement in numbers, especially in the national income accounts. With the ongoing roll-outs of vaccines this 2021, this could be the solution that we have been waiting for since the start of the pandemic — not just for the health and safety of the people, but for the well-being of the economy, laborers, and students as well.
NEDA. (n.d.). REPORT ON NATIONAL INCOME ACCOUNTS (Q4 2020). https://www.neda.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Report-on-National-Income-Accounts-Q4-2020.pdf
OCHA. (2021, January 15.) Philippines: 2020 Significant Events Snapshot (As of 14 January 2021). https://reliefweb.int/report/philippines/philippines-2020-significant-events-snapshot-14-january-2021
PSA. (2020, December 3). Employment Situation in October 2020. https://psa.gov.ph/content/employment-situation-october-2020
Rivas, R. (2020, November 3). Quinta, Rolly wipe out P4.6 billion in agricultural goods. Rappler. https://www.rappler.com/business/agriculture-damage-quinta-super-typhoon-rolly-november-3-2020
Venzon, C. (2021, January 28). Philippines GDP shrinks 9.5% in 2020, worst since 1947. Nikkei Asia. https://asia.nikkei.com/Economy/Philippines-GDP-shrinks-9.5-in-2020-worst-since-1947
The World Bank. (2021, April 22). How COVID-19 affected low-income families in the Philippines (October 2020). https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/infographic/2021/04/22/how-covid-19-affected-low-income-families-in-the-philippines-october-2020