“The results of the April 2013 Labor Force Survey of the National Statistics Office, which show that the country’s employment level dipped slightly with total employed persons placed at 37.819 million, or one percent lower than last April 2012’s  employment of 37.840 million, points to the continuing challenge of creating more productive and decent jobs for the country’s unemployed and underemployed workers.

“This challenge is posed not only to the government, but also to the private sector, including the tripartite partners, and comes in the face of a rapidly growing economy.

“What is very encouraging in the results is the fact that the overall quality of employment continues to improve considerably, with persons in full-time employment growing by 15.3 percent, or 3.194 million, and persons in part-time employment decreasing by 18.9 percent, or 3.063 million.

“As a consequence, the mean hours of work has vastly improved from 39.2 hours a year ago to 41.8 hours in April 2013.

“Wage and salary employment during the quarter was up by 2.9 percent (619,000) and down among the self-employed (143,000) and unpaid family workers (398,000). This brought down the proportion of self-employed and unpaid family workers to the number of total employed to 39.5 percent from 40.9 percent in 2012.

“This tells us that the Millennium Development Goal indicator on employment to reduce poverty, in terms of the ratio of the self employed and unpaid family workers to total employment, is narrowing; wage and salary and  full time employment is expanding; and mean hours of work is increasing.

“A gradual shift towards wage employment that is more productive and decent is now very palpable. Growth was particularly robust in private establishments (3.3 percent) and government (4.7 percent). Together, private and public sector employment expanded by 667,000 from a year earlier.

“Structurally, the biggest growth remains in the service sector but growth momentum in industry and manufacturing is high and needs to be sustained.

“As we have said about the previous Labor Force Survey, underemployment is a persistent challenge, but the April 2013 LFS results indicate that underemployment continues to ease down, from 19.3 percent in the same period last year to 19.2 percent in April 2013.

“In absolute terms, the 7.312 million underemployed persons in 2012 decreased by 60,000 persons to 7.252 million underemployed persons in 2013. Visible underemployment rate also fell to 10.7 percent from 12.8 percent during the period. This translates to 4.056 million visibly underemployed persons, down by 795,000 from the previous year.

“The DOLE is aware that the number of underemployed–persons who expressed the desire to have additional hours of work in their present job or additional job or an entirely new job with longer working hours–could be linked to the issue of low earnings.

“Thus, if the low earnings can be directly related to our workers’ need to acquire additional skills or to upgrade their skills, which could be a reason why it is difficult for them to access other job opportunities, the DOLE’s immediate response is to offer them the Training for Work Scholarship  (TWSP) of the TESDA.

“The unemployed youth, aged 15-24 years old, rose to 1.487 million in April 2013 from 1.450 million in 2012. Of this number, 1.105 million are either college graduates or college undergraduates, and need to have skills or experience to qualify for first-time jobs. I urge these “educated unemployed” to attend short-term employment bridging courses or skills training. I also encourage them to accept the first job that comes their way to gain experience to become more employable.”