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Jobs push launched for grads, migrants

CHINA pledged yesterday to strengthen its employment policies this year and allocate 42 billion yuan (US$6.1 billion) to offset job losses caused by the global financial crisis.

To create more jobs, the government will make full use of the service sector, labor-intensive industries, small and medium-sized enterprises and the non-public sector, Premier Wen Jiabao told national lawmakers in Beijing yesterday.

"We will do everything in our power to stimulate employment," he said.

Wen said priority will be given to finding jobs for university graduates and migrant workers, the two groups hit hardest as the deepening global financial crisis saps labor demand on the domestic front.

No one is expecting an instant improvement. A rebound in job creation usually lags an economic turnaround, said Li Yining, a leading Chinese economist at Peking University.

"The economy usually demands less labor after experiencing a crisis because it will experience improved technologies, equipment and productivity," said Li.

The urban unemployment rate rose to 4.2 percent at the end of 2008, up 0.2 percentage points from the year before.

The country aims to keep its registered jobless rate below 4.6 percent and provide 9 million new urban jobs this year, according to Wen's report.

"It's not an easy target, but the country is actively finding ways to make it happen," Li said.

There will be 7.1 million Chinese college graduates seeking jobs this year, including 1 million who failed to secure employment last year. The jobless rate among university graduates now exceeds 12 percent.

The government will offer social security benefits and position subsidies for college graduates who take jobs in public administration and public services at the community level, Wen told the legislators.

Wen said graduates who accept jobs in villages or enlist in the army will receive tuition reimbursement and have their student loans forgiven.

Institutions of higher learning, research institutes and enterprises undertaking key research projects will be encouraged to recruit qualified university graduates.

To help graduates launch their own businesses, the government will speed up the establishment of startup industrial parks and incubation bases that don't require major investment and yield fast results.

At the same time, China will boost government investment and initiate major projects to employ more migrant workers, Wen said.

As waning foreign demand battered coastal exporters, around 20 million of the nation's 130 million migrant workers have returned to their hometowns without jobs.

Enterprises facing financial difficulties will be encouraged to prevent layoffs by renegotiating wage levels with their employees, adopting flexible employment and work hours and providing on-the-job training for them, Wen said.


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