MANILA—Jobs growth in all major sectors of the economy pushed total employment to 38.7 million in April 2014, a 4.5-percent increase from 37.0 million a year ago, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

This growth translated into 1.7 million additional employed persons in April 2014 from the same period last year. Thus, the unemployment rate dropped to 7.0 percent in April 2014, from 7.6 percent a year ago. Also, the underemployment rate went down to 18.2 percent in this period from 19.2 percent in April 2013.

“The agriculture, industry, and services sectors all posted employment gains. This broad-based growth provides a good indicator of the quality of the country’s economic performance in the second quarter of 2014. This also backs the government’s target of 6.5 to 7.5 percent Gross Domestic Product growth for the full year,” said Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan.

But he emphasized that the employment and labor data for the April 2014 Labor Force Survey (LFS) round excludes Leyte, as the province was devastated by typhoon Yolanda and no survey was conducted in the area.

“The Philippine Statistics Authority excluded the labor and employment data of the Leyte province in the April 2013 LFS round for it to be comparable,” said Balisacan, who is also NEDA Director-General.

Meanwhile, the labor force participation rate (LFPR) increased to 65.2 percent in April 2014, from 63.8 percent a year ago.

“The increase in the LFPR could be partly due to greater seasonal influx of new graduates or vacationing students who are working and/or looking for new or summer employment,” he said.

The services sector contributed more than half of the workers employed (52.8%) and the level of employment increased by 4.8 percent or by 929,000 workers in April 2014 from a year ago. In the agriculture, fishery and forestry sector, employment rose by 3.1 percent in April 2014 accounting for 30.7 percent of the total employed.

“Worth noting is the strong contribution to employment growth of the industry sector, which was at par with that of agriculture,” said Balisacan. Employment in the industry sector posted a 6.3 percent growth in April 2014, translating to an employment generation of 374,000. The share of industry sector to total employment was 16.4 percent.

Moreover, majority of workers found a stable and remunerative work. The types of work that contributed the most to employment growth were wage and salary, own-account, and self-employed without any paid employee.

Meanwhile, most of the employed during the period are 15-24 years old. This may be partly attributed to more youth helping their families during the summer in agriculture, wholesale and retail trade, and repair of motor vehicles.

“While the labor and employment situation in the country has shown a respectable improvement in April 2014, mainly in terms of unemployment and underemployment rates, the quality of employment remains a concern,” said Balisacan.

Given these figures, Balisacan reiterated that the government must continue the multidimensional approach specified in the Updated Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016 to further improve labor market performance. In particular, strategies to encourage investments and improve productivity as well as income per capita in the country need to be sustained. This in turn will spur the productive sectors of the economy and encourage the generation of more stable-paying employment opportunities.

“To ensure that the labor and employment situation will continue to improve for the rest of the year, the timely implementation of programs is crucial. These include strategies to further improve business climate, mitigate or cope with risks like El Niño, and facilitate linkages across sectors and regions,” said Balisacan.