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|
Top Country Destinations for OFWs
In 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%|
|Technicians and associate professionals||6.00%|
|Officials of government and special-interest organizations corporate executive, managers, managing proprietors and supervisors||2.90%|
|Farmers, forestry workers and fishermen||0.40%|
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%|
Source: National Statistics Office, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration