MANILA—Robust hiring in the industry and services sectors boosted employment during the October 2013 round of Labor Force Survey, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA). 

Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan explained that the employment rate in October 2013 still went up to 93.5 percent, from 93.2 percent a year ago, even after a series of typhoons struck the country in August and September. 

“The increase in employment in these sectors, propped up by wholesale and retail trade in the services sector, more than offset the decline in the agriculture sector,” he said. 

The services sector employs more than half of total workers in the country at 53.4 percent, followed by the agriculture sector with 31.4 percent, and industry with 15.2 percent. 

“We expect growth in these sectors to continue in light of the Christmas season,” Balisacan, who is also NEDA Director-General, said. 

Unemployment rate likewise improved to 6.5 percent from 6.8 percent in the same period last year. Underemployment dropped as well to 17.9 percent, possibly due to satisfaction on current employment situation brought by higher incomes or low and stable inflation. 

Based on the latest data from the Bureau of Labor and Employment Statistics, the average daily basic pay has been increasing steadily since January 2012 from about PhP327 in January 2012 to about PhP346 in January 2013, while inflation stood at 2.8 percent in the first 10 months of 2013, still below the government’s target of 3 to 5 percent. 

The bulk of the employed in October 2013, or 44.6 percent of total employed, came from the more remunerative wage and salaried class of workers, particularly those who worked for private establishments. To continually improve the employment picture in the country, Balisacan said, the Philippine Development Plan Midterm Update puts emphasis on the reduction of underemployment in agriculture and creation of conditions for the emergence of new drivers of growth that will generate high-quality jobs and strengthen the competitiveness of different regions in the country. 

“There is a need to sustain efforts that facilitate the substantial creation of decent and quality employment. Further, we need to implement disaster risk-management to mitigate the impact of weather disturbances, particularly in agriculture,” he stressed. 

He specifically mentioned linking the manufacturing sector with agriculture as one of the means to create quality employment. 

“We need to intensify the implementation of measures that will increase agricultural productivity through the use of appropriate technology. We also need to strengthen the link of agriculture with the manufacturing sector to create more quality employment such as in the agro-industry,” Balisacan said. 

The Cabinet official further said that as the economy grows and its structure transforms, employment normally exhibits volatility, as shown by experiences of other emerging economies. 

He added: “Growth tends to increase optimism among the working-age population such that more people become inclined to look for work. Some jobs are destroyed and new ones emerge in the course of structural transformation. While jobs are created, current skill sets of the labor force may not be able to immediately meet the growing and shifting demand for labor.” 

Policies that allow flexible work arrangements, he said, are also needed so that both employers and the labor force can seize growth opportunities and easily adapt to changing markets. 

Meanwhile, Balisacan disclosed that October 2013 round of the LFS excludes data from Leyte as the province was devastated by Typhoon Yolanda, including the data storage infrastructure of the provincial National Statistics Office. 

He said that although employment levels are not directly comparable, since the 1.5-million residents of Leyte are excluded in the recent survey, rates and percent shares remain comparable with those in earlier LFS rounds.