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Every year, it is estimated that more than a million Filipinos leave to work abroad, or around 4,500 Filipinos every day.

Data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) shows that roughly 9.5 million to 12.5 million Filipinos currently work or reside abroad. This translates to around 10-11% of the total Philippine population.

In 2012, OFWs are said to have remitted more than $21 billion back to the Philippines, a 5% growth from the remittances sent in the previous year. This amount is already equivalent to 9% of the country’s $224.75 billion total Gross Domestic Product in 2011. Without a doubt, Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) play a pivotal role in sustaining the Philippine economy.

Number of Overseas Filipinos by country

Overseas Filipinos are widely dispersed worldwide but majority of them are in North America and in the Middle East. The biggest chunk reside in the United States, estimated to number more than 3.4 million as of 2010. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates combined are home to more than 1.8 million Filipinos, while the rest of the OFW population is in Europe and Asia.

The top 30 countries where majority of overseas Filipinos reside as of 2010 are as follows.

Country No. of Overseas Filipinos
United States 3,416,840
Saudi Arabia 1,159,003
Malaysia 900,000
UAE 700,000
Canada 436,190
Japan 350,972
Australia 336,140
Qatar 263,980
Italy 259,508
United Kingdom 200,987
Mexico 200,000
Hong Kong 168,550
Singapore 163,090
Kuwait 155,744
Taiwan 94,283
South Korea 81,395
Germany 55,309
Greece 51,656
Spain 51,268
Bahrain 50,695
France 50,013
Oman 41,000
Israel 39,002
Jordan 32,896
Lebanon 31,348
Austria 29,824
New Zealand 27,139
Libya 23,713
Guam 23,563
Switzerland 22,431

Top Country Destinations for OFWs

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The Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW): Basic Demographic DataIn its “Survey of Overseas Filipinos”, the National Statistics Office disclosed that the Middle East continues to be a leading destination for OFWs in 2011.

In that year, almost a quarter (22.6%) of OFWs left to work in Saudi Arabia, followed by United Arab Emirates (14.6%), Qatar (6.9%), Singapore (6.3%) and Hong Kong (5.3%).

OFWs by Occupation Group or Work Types

The type of work undertaken by OFWs is also varied, but one in every three OFW is an unskilled worker or laborer. An unskilled worker or laborer is one who works as a domestic helper or laborer in the mining, construction, manufacturing, and transport sectors.

The table below summarizes the occupation group of OFWs in 2011.

Occupation Group % of OFWs
Laborers and unskilled workers 32.70%
Service workers and shop and market sales workers 15.50%
Plant and machine operators and assemblers 13.60%
Trade and related workers 12.80%
Professionals 10.60%
Technicians and associate professionals 6.00%
Clerks 5.50%
Officials of government and special-interest organizations corporate executive, managers, managing proprietors and supervisors 2.90%
Farmers, forestry workers and fishermen 0.40%
Total 100.00%

OFWs by Sex and Age

In terms of basic demographic information such as sex, majority of OFWs are males, comprising 52.2%, and the females, 47.8%.

In terms of age range, almost half of OFWs are relatively young, with ages between 25 and 34 years old.

The graph and table below visually summarize the gender and age distribution of OFWs included in the 2011 Overseas Filipino Survey.

Age Range % Male % Female % Total
15 - 24 7.10% 11.70% 9.30%
25 - 29 20.80% 26.60% 23.60%
30 - 34 20.60% 24.80% 22.60%
35 - 39 15.90% 15.90% 15.90%
40 - 44 12.70% 10.80% 11.80%
45 - up 22.90% 10.10% 16.80%
Total 52.20% 47.80% 100.00%

The Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW): Basic Demographic Data

Source: National Statistics Office, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration 

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