Remittance flows from “professionals” and “technicians and associate professionals” plummeted sharply in calm 2010 after rising markedly in crisis-laden 2009, a government survey showed.
Data from the annual Survey on Overseas Filipinos (SOF) of the National Statistics Office showed that from the P16.5-billion remittances from professionals in crisis-hit 2009, the amount went down to P13.512 billion in 2010 (or a drop of 18.11 percent).
Technicians and associate professionals’ remittances also suffered the same fate: after rising to P11.216 billion in 2009, this occupational group’s remittances dropped to P8.558 billion in 2010 (a drop by 23.7 percent year-on-year).
The 2010 estimated remittance volumes from these two occupational groups was almost near their remittance levels in 2008, the year when the global economic crisis started (especially during the third quarter that year).
Out of the 2.043 million OFWs the 2010 SOF estimated, professionals make up 9.9 percent (about 202,000) and technicians and associate professionals 5.6 percent (about 114,000).
In the 2009 SOF where there were 1.912 million OFWs, professionals and technicians and associate professionals make up 10.1 percent and 6.3 percent, respectively, of the total number.
Meanwhile, the top three remitting occupational groups went back up in 2010 after falling in 2009.
The leading occupational group, “laborers and unskilled workers,” sent home P20.561 billion in 2010 — higher than the P18.033 billion in 2009 and the P19.491 billion in 2008.
The second-highest remitting occupational grouping, “plant and machine operators and assemblers,” sent home P18.505 billion in 2010. This is a rebound from the 2009 level of P17.356 billion and the 2008 level of P15.55 billion.
The third-highest grouping, “trades and related workers,” sent home P18.45 billion in 2010. This same group sent home P17.334 billion in 2009 and P18.065 billion in 2008.
These results are an indication of how the global economic crisis impacted on overseas Filipino workers’ abilities to send money to loved ones, said University of Santo Tomas economist Alvin Ang.
On the remittance volumes of professionals and technicians in the years 2009 and 2010, Ang conjectured that these migrants might have sent their savings to family members. The volumes for 2010 of these two occupational groups “isn’t surprising,” Ang said.
Ang added the results of the SOF, especially the 2010 round that was released last week by the National Statistics Office, show that high-skilled workers have not been the top-remitting OFWs all along “as what the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas [BSP] always says.”
Diversity of destinations
Previous years of press releases of the BSP always attribute the rising remittance volumes largely to the money coming from professionals. The last press release that this was mentioned was August 16, 2010, reporting for the six-month remittance levels for the year 2010.
But since then, succeeding BSP press releases mention that “the major driving factors that helped accelerate the growth [of] remittances were the diversity of the destinations and the skills of overseas Filipinos.”
Even if these two occupational groups of OFWs get the highest salaries per capita, Ang said the 2010 deployment data of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) can give cues for this declining remittance volume from high-skilled OFWs.
After the grouping “professional, technical, medical and related workers” had 49,649 new-hire OFWs deployed in 2008, the number plummeted to 47,886 in 2009 and 41,835 in 2010.
And it is “service workers,” where domestic workers are found, that carried the Philippines, said Ang. POEA new-hire deployment data showed that 154,535 new-hire service workers were deployed in 2010 (an all-time high).
However, the data from the SOF on laborers and unskilled workers also reveal that many countries “are not following the US$400 minimum wage set for domestic workers,” Ang said.
— Jeremaiah M. Opiniano/OFW Journalism Consortium