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Quake city seeks ways to fill jobs with residents
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"I am able-bodied. I've got to get a job," said Tang Xingfen, a farmer from Mianzhu City in Sichuan Province, which was seriously damaged by the earthquake on May 12.

Tang lost her farmland in the earthquake, which she had toiled on for decades. But just a fortnight after the disaster, a temporary labor market materialized next to her resettlement location. She leapt at the chance to work and filled out a registration form.

Tang is just one of about 80,000 earthquake victims who are eager to find a job in the city.

The local government has worked hard to be a middleman by using locals to fill job vacancies in other cities, but many locals are not willing to migrate elsewhere for work.

"We are considering how to tap into the vast pool of laborers. I think the rebuilding will be very driven by the laborers on hand," said Luo Yingguang, a local official. "So far, nearly 2,000 people have been reemployed as part of the quake-relief program."

But there are more daunting challenges facing the local government in the long run.

Mianzhu City accounts for a large share of the economic output of Sichuan Province. Its economy took a big hit after the earthquake, with many pillars of the local industry devastated.

The most pressing issue is how to reinvigorate local enterprises, which will absorb a vast number of the people seeking jobs.

The local government has picked the brains of experts from a city planning institution and a consulting firm for the rebuilding program, which will be completed by July 20.

The most pressing concern right now for locals is how to resume economic activities. For Tang, the rebuilding program in the works will provide her with a job in the future.

(China.org.cn by He Shan, June 20, 2008)

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