MANILA—Strong gains in the country’s employment in July 2014 show continued signs of dynamism in the labor market and sustained confidence in the economy, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

The July 2014 Labor Force Survey (LFS) revealed that the figures for employment, unemployment, underemployment, and the labor force participation rate all improved during the period.

The number of employed Filipinos grew by 2.8 percent in July 2014 to 38.5 million from 37.4 million in the same period last year. This means 1.06 million jobs were generated from July 2013 to July 2014.

“Employment generation during the period was broad-based, led by services and industry,” said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan.

Moreover, unemployment rate in July 2014 improved, registering a 0.6 percentage points decline to 6.7 percent from the 7.3 percent in July 2013.

Likewise, underemployment, which is the proportion of those who are already working but still wanted more work, went down to 18.3 percent in July 2014 from 19.2 percent in the same period last year.

Labor force participation rate (LFPR) also increased to 64.4 percent in July 2014 compared to 63.9 percent a year ago. Therefore, the labor market absorbed 879 thousand labor entrants, expanding the labor force to 41.23 million.

“To some extent, the growth in the LFPR reflects the more positive outlook of workers in line with the momentum created by the robust economic growth in recent years, along with the expectations of better employment,” said Balisacan, who is also NEDA Director-General.

“Employment expanded in each class of worker as majority of labor found remunerative work. However, in services and agriculture, which account for the bulk of the country’s labor force, the employment generated was mostly in part-time work. This dampened overall mean hours of work,” said Balisacan.

But he noted that the calculation in the July 2014 round of the LFS still excludes data from the province of Leyte as no survey was conducted in the area due to destruction and labor displacement caused by Typhoon Yolanda. To be comparable, the Philippine Statistics Authority also excluded the labor and employment data of the said province in the July 2013 LFS round.

“The government should continue fostering an economic climate conducive to business and investment to sustain the labor market gains that were achieved in the recent quarters of this year,” the Cabinet official said

“In industry, the key objective should be to increase investment, especially in labor-intensive sectors, and to encourage the existing pool of employers to hire more workers. In the immediate term, the demand for labor can be driven by the infrastructure program of government, reconstruction activities in the Visayas and other disaster-hit areas, and private construction. In services, the focus must be on increasing sales and clients enough to warrant the hiring of workers. There is much room for expansion in business-process management and tourism-related activities.” Balisacan added.

In agriculture, Balisacan said the problem has to do with the quality of employment which is both seasonal and low-paying. He said this can be addressed by introducing nonfarm employment opportunities during the off-season, e.g., value-adding activities, community-based employment program, etc.

“To further support the labor market performance in the medium term, the government should remain vigilant to attendant risks to growth and make sure that pre-emptive measures and programs are in place to mitigate any adverse effects of such risks or shocks in the economy,” he concluded.