Informal work in the Philippines

The challenge of informal work in the Philippines

Scattered about in major thoroughfares, inserted in between high-rise buildings and tucked away in improvised homes, one finds ranks of workers increasingly cast into self-created occupations. The images of street vendors, cafeteria on jeeps and home-based stores, have become normal fare in the Philippines, so much so that these activities have gained acceptance as a survival strategy of the poor and underemployed.

Informal workers - in contrast to formal, wage workers - have been growing. Initially treated as temporary insertions in the economy, and in fact as eyesores, these workers are estimated to continue around 50 per cent of the labour force in the Philippines. Contrary to hopeful expectations that they would eventually be absorbed by the formal sector, they have remained a stubborn feature of the economy as their ranks grew throughout the troughs and even peaks of economic growth.