Employment to remain a continuing challenge

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Yin Weimin, minister of human resources and social security, said that with an abundant labor force China will be under pressure to create jobs during the next Five-Year Plan (2011-2015).

Yin Weimin.[File photo]

Yin Weimin.[File photo]

"We estimate that 24 to 25 million new job opportunities will be needed in urban areas each year over the next five years, a little more than the number in the past five-year period," he said.

From 2006 to November 2010, some 55 million jobs were created for urban residents and nearly 45 million migrant workers were employed, absorbing a large portion of the surplus labor force in rural areas, he said.

During the same period, there were 27 million college graduates, of whom more than 70 percent found a job before graduation, while 80 percent were in employment within six months of graduation.

The global financial crisis and natural disasters have had an impact on China over the past five years, he said, adding that the world downturn took a heavy toll on employment.

As a result of the crisis, some Western countries have been beleaguered by high rates of unemployment. At its last count, unemployment was running at 9.6 percent in the United States, while some European Union countries had one in 10 out of work, according to Xinhua News Agency.

In contrast, the number of registered unemployed urban residents accounted for less than 4.3 percent of the total in China over the past five years, Yin said. "So we can say that we have maintained a stable employment situation, which has not been easy," he added.

Yin attributed China's stable employment rate to the central government allocating nearly 160 billion yuan ($24 billion) for creating jobs over the past five years, 91.5 billion yuan, or 134 percent, more than during the period of 2001-2005.

In addition to the sheer size of the labor force in China, which has a population of 1.3 billion, employment is under structural pressure, the minister said.

"Many members of the labor force are not well matched with their positions and some enterprises cannot find skilled applicants to fill vacancies where demand is urgent," he said.

Yin foresees creating jobs as a priority for policymakers over the next five years, during which time the government will seek to improve the skills of the labor force and encourage people to start their own businesses.

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