RP’s top remitters sent less money in crisis-hit 2009—NSO

by Jeremaiah M. Opiniano
OFW Journalism Consortium

MANILA—Data from an annual OFW survey by the National Statistics Office showed that total and average remittances of the three big remittance-sending occupational groups of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) declined last year.

The 2009 Survey on Overseas Filipinos showed that total remittances from OFWs in 2009 declined by P3.423 billion to P138.481 billion, compared to the P141.904 billion received in 2008.

Remittances from “laborers and unskilled workers” in 2009 declined by P1.666 billion compared to 2008 levels. Domestic helpers, the country’s number one deployed migrant workers according to data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), are part of this occupational grouping.

Remittances, meanwhile, from “service workers and shop and market sales workers” dropped by P2.473 billion while those from “trades and related workers” were lower by P0.731 billion.

On average, laborers and unskilled workers surveyed by the SOF sent P37,000 each in 2009, lower than the P39,000 average sent in 2008.

Service workers and shop and market sales workers also had a drop in average remittances with P55,000 each in 2009 (down by P12,000). Luckily, average remittances from trades and related workers rose by a thousand pesos to P67,000 each in 2009.

Total remittances sent as cash dropped in 2009 to P102.535 billion, compared to the P103.928 billion of cash sent in 2008.

Cash remittances sent by OFWs through banks, agencies and local offices, friends or co-workers through hand-carried means or padala, and through door-to-door services all dropped in 2009 compared to 2008 figures.

Remittances coursed through door-to-door companies had the biggest drop in amounts compared to 2008 by P3.598 billion. For banks the drop in amounts was P1.125 billion; P0.793 billion for agencies and local offices (this mode being applicable to seafarers whose 80 percent of their salaries are retained and sent to families by manning agencies); and P0.485 billion for padala.

The total number of OFWs estimated by the SOF, numbering to 1.912 million people in 2009, was also lower than the 2008 estimate of 2.002 million OFWs.

By percentage share of the place of work of the OFWs surveyed, there were lesser numbers of OFWs who were working in East Asia, Southeast Asia, Europe, and North and South America in 2009 compared to 2009, NSO data show.

Most OFWs surveyed by the NSO were laborers and unskilled workers (32.3 percent), trades and related workers (14.9 percent), service workers and shop and market sales workers (14.8 percent), plant and machine operators and assemblers (13.9 percent), and professionals (10.1 percent).

Even if professionals had higher total and average remittances in 2009 as compared to 2008 (P16.5 billion total and P103,000 average), their total is only a third of laborers and unskilled workers in 2009.

Curiously, the NSO press release did not compare results of the 2009 SOF to the 2008 results.

Year 2001 to 2008 results of the SOF also showed rising remittances from OFWs, but it is only the year 2009 when total remittances went down year-on-year.

The SOF is a survey that covered OFWs who worked overseas from April to September of every year.

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