MANILA—The reduction in the country’s unemployment and underemployment rates in April 2015 indicates a sustained favorable situation in the job market owing to the continued strength of the economy, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

“The favorable market condition in April 2015 follows a similar trend in the January 2015 round of the Labor Force Survey (LFS) where unemployment and underemployment also declined,” said Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported today that the country’s unemployment rate significantly decreased to 6.4 percent in April 2015 from 7.0 percent of the same month in 2014. This translates to 495,000 more employed Filipinos and reduced the total number of unemployed to 2.7 million.

“It is noteworthy that the improvement in the employment situation appears to be broad-based. Thirteen out of seventeen regions, including the National Capital Region or NCR, exhibited a decline in unemployment during the survey period,” the Cabinet official said.

“NCR continued to post the highest unemployment rate at 9.3 percent, while ARMM recorded the lowest unemployment rate at 3.2 percent,” added Balisacan, who is also NEDA Director-General.

Underemployment also improved to 17.8 percent from the 18.2 percent registered in the same period in 2014. This accounts for the 44,000 Filipinos who are no longer underemployed, reducing the total number to 7.0 million employed persons who want more work for the period.

“Looking at the characteristics of the underemployed, improvements were observed across all classes of workers, except for the self-employed without any paid employee, those who worked with pay in their own family-operated farms, and workers in government or government corporations,” he said.

Moreover, majority of the labor force who are employed in more remunerative and stable work increased by 1.9 percent, reaching 22.6 million in April 2015. They now comprise 57.8 percent of total workers, slightly higher than their 57.5 percent share from a year ago.

“If these developments are sustained for the rest of the year, the full-year average will likely surpass the Philippine Development Plan target of 6.6 to 6.8 percent for the unemployment rate and 18.0 percent for the underemployment rate in 2015,” said Balisacan.

Meanwhile, total employment also grew by 1.3 percent year-on-year in April 2015, which means that an additional 495,000 Filipinos were able to get jobs during the period.

“While this period’s employment rate is slower than the posted growth in April 2014, the situation has generally improved as services and industry sectors continue to lead in jobs generation,” the NEDA official said.

The slight setback was mainly due to the El Niño phenomenon that impacted the agriculture sector, which accounts for about one-third of total employment.

“To ensure that the gains in employment are sustained, the government must continue its interventions in the agriculture sector and pursue adequate infrastructure spending to boost economic growth and employment,” said Balisacan.

In agriculture, he stressed the need to implement disaster risk management strategies and other precautionary measures against drought, floods, and rain-induced landslides in hazard prone areas. This is to mitigate as well as prevent any further adverse effects of natural disasters on the country’s economy, especially on employment.

“To continue the gains, we need to speed-up the implementation of key reforms such as public infrastructure development, reducing investment restrictions, increasing competition, reducing the cost of doing business. If implemented, these can help lift the key constraints to sustained, job-generating growth,” he concluded.

The PSA notes that the labor and employment data for the April 2015 LFS round still excludes Leyte. Due to large number of households displaced in the province by the typhoon Yolanda, a new sampling frame for the province of Leyte has to be created for it to be included in the survey. The old listing of households for Leyte used as sampling frame for the 2003 Master Sample is no longer usable, according to the PSA.