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Nation will face tighter job market
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The domestic job market will face growing pressures over the next few months as global economic problems cut employment in a number of sectors, a top labor official said on Friday.

"Employment remains a major difficulty in terms of overall social development, and it faces huge pressures," Vice-Minister of Human Resources and Social Security Hu Xiaoyi told a news conference at the Beijing International Media Center.

About 20 million people join the workforce every year in China, which continues to have a labor surplus, he said.

Growing global economic uncertainties in the first half of this year and the pressure brought by a rising yuan on foreign trade have led to job cuts in a number of sectors, Hu said.

Adding to the seriousness of the situation is the large number of laid-off workers from State-owned enterprises (SOEs) as 2008 marks the last year for the central government to shut down bankrupt SOEs, Wang Yadong, a deputy division chief at the ministry said earlier.

Zhou Tianyong, professor of the Party School of the CPC Central Committee, said that the possible economic slowdown during the next six months will put pressures on China's employment market.

"China's employment has been generally driven by investment. With the scale of investment shrinking, it is time to rethink this employment growth model," Zhou told Xiaokang magazine in July.

To tackle these problems, Hu said the government will continue to focus on creating employment for families in which no member has a job, people below the poverty line and the more than 5 million people graduating from universities every year.

The government is also encouraging people to set up their own businesses, Hu said.

China's registered urban and township unemployment rate stood at 4 percent in the first half, generally the same as in the same period last year, he said.

A total of 8.35 million people were registered unemployed across the country's urban areas and townships in the first of the year, the ministry said.

However, the figure did not take into account the huge number of people made jobless by the May 12 earthquake, Hu said.

Some self-employed people in the quake zone are still running businesses, and those made temporarily jobless will soon resume their employment as soon as reconstruction begins, he said.

According to estimates, more than 700,000 people in Sichuan are believed to have lost their jobs as a result of the quake.

Vice-Minister of Civil Affairs Jiang Li told the same conference yesterday that people who lost their arms or legs in the quake will get life long care and treatment from the government and charitable bodies.

(China Daily August 16, 2008)

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