As many as 2.99 million of the nearly - 41 million workforce in the Philippines lost their jobs in 2013, driving the country’s unemployment rate to 7.3 percent, according to the National Statistic Office (NSO).

Last year, the unemployment rate was 7 percent.

The office also reported that the underemployment rate settled at 19.8 percent this year, slightly better than the 20 percent recorded in 2012.

The underemployment rate refers to the proportion of employed people who are looking for additional work.

Of the 37.98 million Filipinos who do have jobs, nearly 7.51 million are considered underemployed, the NSO said.

Economists noted that despite the robust growth of the economy, the unemployment rate in the country continued to rise.

In the first three quarters of the year, the Philippines posted a 7.4 percent growth rate, becoming one of the fastest growing economies in Asia. The rate was estimated at 6.5-7 percent this year.

Director General of the National Economic and Development Authority Arsenio Balisacan said the country needs to sustain strong growth over the long term before it could make a significant change in employment.

Despite the progress, the country still needs to attract more investments to create good-quality jobs, he said.-VNA