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China's informal employee count hits 130M
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Experts at launch ceremony for a labor market observation book said Thursday that the number of Chinese people engaged in irregular employment now exceeds 130 million. Complete employment statistics, management and social assistance policies are greatly needed to improve the current situation.

The term "informal employment" refers to regular employment in casual sectors or informal employment in formal sectors. Vendors, small-scale family operations, self-employed businesspeople or temporary enterprise workers all fall under these categories.

Ren Yuan, a professor in the humanities school at Fudan University, served as editor-in-chief of the Report on China's Development of Informal Employment in 2006. He pointed out that a group of this size working as an informal labor force would well explain why China's employment rate has stayed so low as the economy has continued to grow fast.

He stressed that many informal employees have not included in employment statistics, since data is only collected from enterprises.

In face of heavy employment pressure, China has encouraged young graduates, full of energy and creativity, to start their own businesses. However, beneficial policies such as social insurance systems are not yet in place for informal employees. There are still other problems of high concern, such as human resources management and personal records management. All these difficulties have discouraged many recent graduates from striking out on their own.

Ren called for a favorable environment with better systems, governmental support and social assistance as means of regulating informal employment, so as to improve the situation and create more pathways for graduates.

(CRI December 21, 2007)


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