“The COVID-19 pandemic caused setbacks in fighting poverty in the region,” said NEDA Assistant Regional Director Irenea B. Ubungen during the 2021 Poverty Statistics News Conference on October 12, 2022 at Hotel Ariana, Bauang, La Union. This was part of the NEDA Regional Office (RO) 1’s statement read by Director Ubungen following the Philippine Statistics Authority’s (PSA) presentation of 2021 poverty statistics.
According to PSA Regional Director, Atty. Sheila O. De Guzman, poverty incidence among population and families in the region increased to 14.4 and 11.0 percent, respectively in 2021 as compared to the 2018 poverty incidence at 9.9 (among population) and 7.0 (among families). The report also showed that all the provinces in the region, except Ilocos Norte, posted higher poverty incidence in 2021 as compared in 2018. The provinces of Ilocos Sur, La Union, and Pangasinan posted poverty incidence among population at 15.1 (from 7.5), 9.3 (from 4.4), and 17.9 (from 12.9), respectively. Meanwhile, Ilocos Norte remained its good performance in improving poverty status in the province as its poverty incidence among population declined to 2.5 from 4.5 in 2018.
Director Ubungen mentioned that the region’s poverty status did not move in parallel with the improved employment rate in the region. She said that this could be due to the increase in the region’s inflation rate which registered at 4.0 percent 2021 from 2.5 in 2020 which consequently increased the expenditures of families. She likewise stated that the poverty situation in the region could have been worse had the region not rebounded back to a positive economic growth of 4.6 percent from negative 7.7 in 2020, and an increased employment rate of 91.8 percent in 2021 from 86.6 in 2020.
The NEDA RO1 statement also emphasized that the region will continue to implement programs and projects that will provide employment and livelihood opportunities for the people. Likewise, programs that provide safety nets such as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program of the DSWD will continue. The government will strengthen investments in health and education to reduce the vulnerability of people living below the poverty line. The statement ended enjoining the people to continue working together in strengthening resilience towards achieving a matatag, maginhawa, at panatag na buhay para sa lahat.
Ms. Rensae Mae C. De Vera and Ms. Driesch Lucien R. Cortel of the PSA Central Office also presented the highlights of the 2021 Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES) and Official Poverty Estimation Methodology, respectively, to have better understanding on how poverty statistics are estimated. Ms. Cortel reported that the region’s average family income and expenditure in 2021 increased to around 305 thousand and 210 thousand pesos, respectively.