MANILA – More employment opportunities need to be encouraged in areas where victims of disasters tend to migrate to look for work, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

This statement came after the Philippine Statistics Authority released the results of the Labor Force Survey (LFS) for January 2014. The survey shows that total employment grew by 0.8 percent year-on-year, translating to 283,000 jobs generated, but slower than the labor force growth of 1.2 percent during the period.

As a result, the unemployment rate went up to 7.5 percent in January 2014, higher by 0.4 percentage point from the year-ago rate of 7.1 percent.

However, the underemployment rate went down to 19.5 percent for the period, or approximately 7.1 million employed persons in January 2014. This is lower compared to 20.7 percent or about 7.5 million in January 2013.

“The January result of the LFS is quite unique in that it comes as an aftermath of two extreme disasters in 2013. We are now observing the lingering effects of the disruptions caused by these disasters on the supply chains not only in disaster-affected areas but also in neighboring areas. For example, construction materials diverted to disaster areas caused supply problems in neighboring areas, including Luzon provinces,” said Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan.

The slower growth in employment in the services sector, which accounts for the bulk of total employment, inched up only by 0.1 percent or 18,000 net employment generation in January 2014.

“The devastation wrought by these disasters probably affected tourism and demand for leisure and wellness services,” said Balisacan.

Unemployment rate was highest at 11.2 percent in the National Capital Region (NCR). “The double-digit unemployment rate in NCR may be due to the phenomenon of in-migration of individuals from rural areas and those from the disaster-stricken areas seeking opportunities for employment,” said Balisacan.

Balisacan noted that the onset of disasters naturally drives away a great number of people who will, sooner or later, need to find work in a new place. “Given that firms are unable to make immediate hiring decisions, the additional labor supply will remain unemployed, especially if their skills do not match the requirements of the firm,” he explained.

“A strategic response, then, is to encourage more employment opportunities in these places of refuge. In other words, the safety net should be cast wider to include the towns or provinces adjacent to the disaster-stricken areas,” Balisacan said.

But he noted that on the supply side, these refugees normally do not possess documentary evidence of employability, making it more difficult for them to be employed.

“Employment facilitation strategies should then be re-designed to include mechanisms to re-construct proof of employability,” said Balisacan.

To minimize effects of disasters on the economy as a whole, Balisacan also emphasized the importance of a diversified market for inputs and outputs to ensure continued operations even if certain sectors or areas are adversely affected by disasters.

“For processors and traders and traders such as trading forex and binary options as explain in this traders asset website, it is always wise to maintain redundancies in operations spread over geographical space. Also, while a huge part of the country’s demand is domestically driven, it is equally important to expand trade relations with the rest of the world,” he said.

Balisacan added that these strategies are part of the multidimensional approach outlined in the Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016 Midterm Update.

Meanwhile, Balisacan noted that the calculation of labor and employment figures for the January 2014 LFS excludes that of Region 8 as certain parts of the region were devastated by super typhoon Yolanda and no survey was conducted in those areas.

“To be comparable, the PSA also excluded the Region 8 labor and employment data in the January 2013 LFS round,” he said.