ONLINE hiring demand in the Philippines remained strong in the first quarter despite the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the Monster Employment Index (MEI) said.

MEI in a report said online hiring demand in the country saw 14% and 15% year-on-year growth in January and February, respectively, while March hiring demand grew by 10%.

The growth was led by demand in the outsourcing sector, with a 23% growth in January, 28% in February, and 25% in March.

Among specific roles, software, hardware, and telecom professionals saw demand growth of 14% over the quarter.

But some sectors are seeing declining demand.

Demand for jobs in the hospitality sector dropped 8%, while demand in the retail sector fell 5%.

MEI said that among specific roles, purchase, logistics, and supply chain jobs saw the steepest year-on-year declines of 5% in January and 7% in February. Demand for these jobs dropped by 19% by March.

Monster.com Asia Pacific and the Middle East Chief Executive Officer Krish Seshadri said that although hiring growth in the Philippines remains steady, challenges will come as the country sees more of the impacts of the pandemic.

“These are some truly unprecedented times, and it’s more important than ever for employers — particularly in hard-hit industries such as travel and retail — to do what they can to support their employees through this storm,” he said.

“Now is the time for employers to take a step back and think about how they can build agility and resilience in their teams, and ensure that their employees have the right skill-sets and support to navigate the changes that will be brought on by this adversity.”

The International Labour Organization projects a 6.7% loss in total job hours globally, or the equivalent of 195 million full-time workers, in the second quarter of 2020 as a result of the pandemic.

The National Economic and Development Authority said that 116,000 to 1.8 million Philippine jobs could be lost.

The MIE is a monthly analysis of online job postings done by Monster India, an online job search platform. MIE started collecting Philippine data in 2014. — Jenina P. Ibañez