THE unemployment rate in Central Visayas rose to 7.5 percent in 2009, the fifth-highest jobless rate among the country’s 17 regions.

According to the National Statistics Office, only the National Capital Region, Calabarzon, Central Luzon and the Ilocos Region had higher unemployment rates last year at 12.8 percent, 10.4 percent, 9.2 percent and 8.2 percent, respectively.

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The jobless rate for Central Visayas was worse than the seven percent it recorded in 2008.

The underemployment picture was slightly better, though, as the region’s rate fell to 14.8 percent from 15.1 percent.

This is the fourth lowest among the regions, with only Central Luzon (7.8 percent), the National Capital Region (12.4 percent) and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (12.8 percent) registering better rates.

The underemployed refer to employed persons who want to have additional hours of work in their present job or to have an additional job, or to have a new job with longer working hours.

There were 6.7 million underemployed and 2.8 million unemployed in the country in 2009.