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Spring heralds job-loss fears

For many city workers, spring may not be so welcome this year with layoffs expected to peak in March and April.

Office staff, especially those in foreign-invested enterprises, are at especially high risk of losing their jobs this spring, officials from the city government's Human Resources and Social Security Bureau told the Shanghai People's Congress members yesterday in a report.

"Generally, a fiscal year for a foreign-invested company starts in April and lasts till end of March. Under the current economic situation, some foreign companies will surely cut their labor budget for the new fiscal year. This means layoffs in such companies will peak around the end of March or in April," a bureau official said.

Others particularly likely to suffer in the current economic downturn were migrant workers and college graduates.

The millions of migrant workers who have returned to Shanghai after celebrating the lunar New Year at home are also victims of the tightening economy as the demand for labor decreases in the city.

"Various social issues" may incur if they stay jobless for long in Shanghai, officials warned.

City government spokesman Chen Qiwei said yesterday: "The economic crisis will have a bigger impact on migrant workers in the first quarter of this year."

Migrant workers in companies which were export-oriented or engaged in manufacturing would be among the worst hit, he said.

Baolong Company, an auto producer in Qingpu District, had a year-on-year 76 percent decrease in orders last month. The company had not laid off any workers so far.

Fewer projects

Construction businesses in Songjiang will have 50 percent fewer new projects, and only 50,000 workers will be needed this year compared to 80,000 in 2007, according to district officials.

In Songjiang Industrial Park, 100,000 workers have still not found work, said Wu Hongxing, president of Songjiang Federation of Trade Unions.

In Qingpu District, a total of 231 enterprises were shut down and 178 left the district last year, causing 19,000 job losses, officials said.

Nearly 150,000 college graduates will be seeking jobs in June and July.

The government has improved allowances for college graduates on internship with public services. The time limit for such internships has been extended from 6 months to 12 months.

To help curb layoffs, the government has promised allowances to workers sent on training courses by their companies.

This is to take the pressure off companies suffering shrinking business or who are temporarily suspending production and encourage them to retain staff by sending them on training programs, officials said.


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