NEARLY 2.6 million Filipinos were jobless in April, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said Thursday.

The number of unemployed Filipinos is equivalent to 6.1 percent unemployment rate, higher than the 5.8 percent in January, according to PSA latest Labor Force Survey (LFS).

Among the regions with the highest unemployment rates include the National Capital Region with 7.7 percent; Ilocos Region, 7.5 percent; Calabarzon, 7.5 percent; and Central Luzon, 7.1 percent.

Majority or 63.2 percent of unemployed persons were males.

Of the total unemployed, the age group 15 to 24 years comprised 50.1 percent, while the age group 25 to 34, 28.3 percent.

By educational attainment, 23.1 percent of the unemployed were college graduates, 13.1 percent were college undergraduates, and 31.4 percent were high school graduates.

Underemployment rate slightly fell to 18.4 percent or equivalent to 7.351 million persons in April, from 19.7 percent in January.

Underemployment refers to those who are working but want more work.

Meanwhile, the number of employed Filipinos registered at 30.9 million, comprising 93.9 percent of the total labor force, in April.

Of the employed, more than three quarters are permanently employed and just over a fifth are short-term or seasonal workers. Other indicators of quality employment, such as wage and salaried employment (24.8 million or 62.1 percent of total employed), fulltime employment, and mean hours of work have shown an increasing trend, supportive of an optimistic outlook on employment.

"If the labor market trends are maintained, the Philippine Development Plan target of 6.5-6.7 percent for unemployment rate in 2016 is likely to be achieved,” said National Economic and Development Authority Director General Emmanuel Esguerra.

To further improve the employment situation in the country, he said the incoming administration needs to create the conditions that will produce more high quality jobs, including easing the country’s foreign investment restrictions.

"Improving the business climate is key given the need for resiliency and adaptability to changes in the labor market," he said.

Esguerra said the country also needs to focus more on income security rather than job security. This can be done by producing a better trained and agile workforce while exploring more flexible work contracts and unemployment insurance/savings schemes that will support this type of employment.

For this, he said that closer cooperation between industry and educational institutions on curriculum upgrade is crucial to create better trained but more flexible workforce.

He added that the access of the farm workers to technology should be improved to help them shift to more suitable and high-value crops. The same can be tapped to create crops that can survive adverse weather conditions like La Niña, which may develop within the second half of 2016. (SDR/Sunnex)