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Hard times ahead in Shanghai
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The job market of Shanghai is currently stable but the effects of the global economic slowdown will be clear to see in the early part of next year, a spokesman for the municipal government said yesterday.

Speaking at a news briefing, Chen Qiwei said the hardest time has yet to come, and a close watch will have to be maintained on employment.

"The pressure on the sector is expected to reach its climax in the first half of next year," he said.

"However, the status of Shanghai's job market is stable and no large layoffs have been reported."

The city has not experienced any fleeing company owners, as has been witnessed in some coastal cities, he said.

But pressure will mount next year on jobs in Shanghai, which is home to about 18 million permanent residents, Chen said.

Although hundreds of thousands of new graduates will enter the market next year, research by Jiaotong University has shown that employers, especially foreign firms and those in the financial and real estate sectors, have slowed their recruitment campaigns.

Also, a survey conducted by the city's human resources and social security bureau in October showed that local companies planned to recruit fewer people in the fourth quarter than in the three months prior.

In response, authorities are making greater efforts to monitor the jobs market and encourage independent startups to create more jobs, Chen said.

The government is also setting up a guarantee mechanism to protect workers against employers who default on wage payments, he said without elaborating.

People on low incomes, the disabled and others experiencing difficulties securing work will also be assisted by the government, he said.

The government views low unemployment as critical to maintaining social stability in the country, he said.

In the Minhang area of the city, more than 1,000 companies have promised not to lay any workers off during the economic downturn, Chen said.

Also, the city's labor union will organize four job fairs in the Yangpu, Xuhui, Putuo and Zhabei districts, with the aim of creating 2,200 jobs in the service sector, he said.

For example, in Guangzhong, Hongkou district, jobs have been created at a community canteen, he said.

Wang Liping, head of the Guangzhong sub-district office, said: "The job market is gloomy, but we are trying to create more rice bowls during our transformation into a modern community."

(China Daily December 31, 2008)

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