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China's Cabinet pledges new support for job-boosting effort

CHINA'S Cabinet yesterday placed further emphasis on the need to create jobs in setting economic policies and issued new rules for employers planning major layoffs.

Public officials will be evaluated on their performance in creating jobs and controlling unemployment, the State Council said in a notice posted on its Website.

The notice, the latest step in an effort designed to curb rising unemployment amid the global economic downturn, also said that the government should take a bigger role in advancing projects to boost employment.

Expanding payrolls should be the key priority in all major economic actions and industry projects, according to the notice.

Government investment must focus on projects that are likely to generate the most jobs, and project proposals must specify employment projections, it added.

Employers across the country must give 30 days' notice to work unions or employees if they plan to cut more than 20 workers or 10 percent of their total workforce, the State Council said.

Companies must also submit a dismissal plan to local social security authorities before any layoffs, it said.

Supervision should be stepped up to prevent the sudden shutdown of factories and to make sure workers get paid, the Cabinet said.

Officials should "properly handle" disputes triggered by laid-off workers and their rights must be protected, the notice emphasized.

The fallout from the global economic slowdown hit China hard late last year, with growth in the country's gross domestic product dropping to 6.8 percent in the fourth quarter. The full-year figure slowed to 9 percent, the lowest since 2002.

Exports fell 2.8 percent in December, following a 2.2 percent decrease in November, the first such decline in seven years. Many factories in export-driven southern China have closed, raising concern that social stability in rural areas will deteriorate as unemployed migrant workers lack the income to support their families.

About 20 million migrant workers - 15 percent of the nation's migrant labor pool - have already lost their jobs, Chen Xiwen, director of the Office of the Central Rural Work Leading Group, said earlier this month.

The prospects for the country's job market look even worse later this year when 6 million college graduates begin seeking work.


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