THE unemployment rate in Central Mindanao region has gone down last year from 2008, an official said.

Herlita G. Caraan, chief of the National Statistical Coordination Board in Central Mindanao, said the unemployment rate in the four-province, five-city region dropped by 0.4 percent to 4.1 percent in 2009 from 4.5 percent posted the previous year.

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She noted this made Central Mindanao ranked fourth among the 17 regions in the country with the least percentage of unemployed persons.

The national average was estimated at 7.5 percent in 2009, higher than the 7.4 percent unemployment rate posted in 2008, she cited data from their main unit in Manila.

Underemployed persons include those who express the desire to have additional hours of work in their present job or an additional job, or to have a new job with longer working hours, she explained.

The proportion of economically active population of Central Mindanao region to its total population 15 years old and over, which is known as the labor force participation rate, improved from 66.1 percent in 2008 to 66.7 percent in 2009, Ms. Caraan said.

Central Mindanao is composed of the provinces of South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani, and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan, and Cotabato. (BSS)