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October 23, 2017

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Unemployment rate in China at lowest in years

CHINA’S unemployment rate of 3.95 percent at the end of September was its lowest in many years, but challenges remain as the economy pushes ahead with structural reforms, the human resources ministry said yesterday.

China has maintained overall stability in employment in the past five years, with urban registered and survey-based jobless rates kept at “a relatively low level,” Minister of Human Resources and Social Security Yin Weimin said at a press conference on the sidelines of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, which opened last Wednesday and ends tomorrow.

It was a hard-won achievement against the backdrop of a slowing and restructuring economy and a large labor force, Yin said.

On an annual basis, the official unemployment rate was last below 4 percent in 2001, when it was 3.6 percent, according to National Bureau of Statistics data. The rate ended 2016 at 4.02 percent after not budging from 4.1 percent from 2010-2015.

The ministry said 10.97 million new jobs had been created from January to September this year, a growth of 300,000 compared with the previous year.

The figure represents having essentially fulfilled the ministry’s year-end target, it said.

Despite being ahead of schedule, Yin told reporters that “raising the capacity to employ workers overall still faces large pressures.”

“We need to create 15 million jobs per year,” he said, singling out China’s more than 8 million new university graduates who enter the job market each year as one group in need of employment.

Yin also said the low unemployment rate in the face of an overall slowdown in the economy was largely due to the new Internet economy and entrepreneurship, adding that the ministry would actively support startups to help them “thrive.”

From 2015 to 2020, every 1 percent increase in GDP is expected to equal roughly 1.8 million new jobs, Yin said.

Premier Li Keqiang said in March that China had added 13.14 million new urban jobs in 2016 and aims to add another 11 million this year while keeping the registered unemployment rate below 4.5 percent.

The survey-based jobless rate for 31 major cities stood at 4.83 percent in September, the lowest level since 2012, according to figures from the statistics bureau.

Yin attributed the achievement to the fact that the Party has attached great importance to employment, as well as the roles of steady economic growth, reform and fiscal support.

The government has said that some sectors, especially those targeted by capacity cuts, such as coal and steel, still show signs of unresolved employment challenges.

He pledged to continue proactive support for employment, strengthen vocational training, encourage entrepreneurship and protect workers’ rights.

The ministry of human resources said in April that China would need to resettle about half a million workers who lose jobs in the coal and steel sectors this year and will speed up development of a blacklist of firms with wage arrears.


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