Fewer families in Cebu and in most of the other provinces in the Visayas were considered poor in the first semester of 2018, as indicated by the reduced average poverty incidence reported by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).
Cebu was moved out of Cluster 3 and re-classified into Cluster 4 of provinces based on its average poverty incidence, reported at 16.5% in the first semester of 2018, an improvement from the 24.1% in the first half of 2015.
A poverty rate of 16.5% means that roughly 4 out of 25 families in Cebu were earning below the poverty line of P10,481 for a family of five in a month.
The PSA classifies the provinces into five clusters, with Cluster 1 made up of the poorest provinces and Cluster 5 composed of areas with the lowest poverty rates.
Cebu, along with Bohol and six other Visayas provinces, were in Cluster 4. The provinces under this cluster had average poverty incidence between 12.2% and 21.1%.
Bohol’s poverty incidence also improved to 21.1% in the first six months of 2018 from 25.9% in the same period of 2015.
Other Visayas provinces that moved up to Cluster 4 were Aklan (14.6%), Antique (18.3%), and Negros Occidental (18.5%). The provinces of Biliran (18%), Guimaras (12.4%), and Iloilo (15.8%) remained under Cluster 4.
Siquijor and Capiz, along with all four districts in Metro Manila, were in Cluster 5, with Siquijor jumping from poorest or Cluster 1 (49.7%) in the first semester of 2015 to Cluster 5 (10%) in the first half of 2018.
Capiz had the lowest poverty incidence in the Visayas at 5.9%, a huge improvement from 18.3% three years ago.
No province from the Visayas was in Cluster 1, the poorest provinces, namely, Basilan (65.3% poverty incidence), Lanao del Sur (68%), and Sulu (65.8%).
Northern Samar, which was among the poorest in the first half of 2015 with a poverty incidence of 53.8%, was in Cluster 3 in the first semester of 2018 as poverty incidence went down to 30% as of June 2018.
Other provinces in Cluster 3 were along with Samar (32.2%), Southern Leyte (22.8%), Leyte (29.4%) and Negros Oriental (26.1%).
Eastern Samar remained in Cluster 2 and its poverty incidence worsened slightly to 43% in the first half of 2018 compared to 42.9% in the first semester of 2015.
The estimates were based on the food and poverty threshold as of the first semester of 2018.
According to the PSA, the food threshold for the period under review was P7,337 while the poverty threshold was P10,481.
This means that a family of five needed to earn at least P7,337 to meet their basic food needs for a month and at least P10,481 to meet both basic food and non-food needs.
Non-food needs include clothing, fuel, light and water, housing, rental of occupied dwelling units, transportation and communication, health and education expenses, non-durable furnishing, household operations and personal care and effects.
On the national level, poverty incidence among families was estimated at 16.1%, an improvement from 2.2% in the first half of 2015.
Among individuals, the poverty incidence was estimated at 21%, down 6.6 percentage points from 27.6 percent in 2015 first half.
The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) attributed the decrease to the improved incomes of Filipinos and the creation of more jobs in the construction and manufacturing sectors.
“While inflation rose to 8.1% in the period of 2015-2018 from 7.8% in 2012-2015, the growth of average income accelerated considerably to 21.2% from 15.3%, respectively,” NEDA said in a statement.
Growth in per capita income of the bottom 30% of households picked up significantly to 29.2% in the 2015-2018 period from only 20.6% in the 2012-2015 period.
“This implies an increase in real incomes of the poor, which has helped in reducing poverty among Filipino families and individuals,” NEDA said.
The agency said a growing labor market and robust economic growth are seen to temper the effects of high inflation on poverty in the second half of 2018. (Ventures Cebu)