MANILA, June 5 (Xinhua) -- An estimated 1.3 million jobs have been created over the past 12 months, the latest Labor Force Survey (LFS) showed on Wednesday, allowing the Philippines to log an employment rate of 94.9 percent, the highest among all April rounds of the LFS since 2009.
The employment rate is the proportion of employed workers in the labor force, and the 94.9 percent is equivalent to 42.2 million Filipinos with jobs.
"The results show a vibrant labor market," the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said, adding the 1.3 million jobs generated for the period is more than double April 2018's 625,000.
"The April 2019 round of the LFS reflected an upbeat labor market, where unemployment rate was at a low 5.1 percent and underemloyment rate at 13.5 percent," Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said.
Unemployment rate was 5.1 percent in April this year compared to 5.5 percent in April 2018, the data showed. Underemployment rate -- the proportion of those already employed but still wanting more work -- fell to its lowest in more than a decade (April rounds only) at 13.5 percent.
Pernia stressed the need to continuously lower the unemployment and underemployment rates to successfully meet the Philippine Development Plan targets by 2022.
"Both quality and quantity of work need to be addressed. At the same time that employment opportunities are being increased, workers and jobseekers must be enabled to improve their knowledge and skills through training and education," he said.
The services sector, which comprised 58.5 percent of the country's total employment, was the biggest contributor in terms of additional employment amid a more bullish business outlook in the second quarter of 2019.
"The expansion may be attributed to increased business activities in line with the campaign period for the Philippine midterm elections. Adding to this is the increase in consumer demand during summer and harvest seasons," Pernia said.
Government programs, which includes the Government Internship Program, JobStart Philippines Program and apprenticeship, need to be enhanced to strengthen the labor market while also making it more flexible, he added.
Pernia also highlighted the need for a more comprehensive income protection program through a more vigilant enforcement of work safety regulations, aggressive employment facilitation and unemployment insurance to protect workers from unsafe working conditions and economic disruptions.