My question is to Mr. You Jun. We have noticed that the outbreak of the epidemic has affected employment in some industries and in regard to medium- and small-sized enterprises. How will it impact employment as a whole? What kind of measures will you take to deal with the impact? Thank you.
Thanks for your concern. Employment has always been a matter of great concern to everyone in society. Generally speaking, the current employment situation in China as a whole remains stable. Last year, 13.52 million new urban jobs were created, meaning the number topped 13 million for the seventh straight year. At the end of last year, the national surveyed urban unemployment rate was 5.2%, lower than expected.
According to the data of January, the main employment index was running within an appropriate range. However, the outbreak of the epidemic has inevitably brought great impact to our economy, and this will surely affect employment. Employers delayed the resumption of work and production, so naturally employees could not return to work as planned. Service sector industries, like tourism and catering, and medium- and small-sized enterprises have been encountering increased difficulties. Due to faltering demand of market recruitment, college graduates, migrant workers and other key groups have to face tougher situation. Therefore, the structural contradiction between the difficulties of employers and employees became more prominent, which really poses some challenges for employment this year.
However, we should also see that the impact of the epidemic is temporary and generally manageable, and it will certainly not change the fundamentals of China's long-term sound economic growth, as well as the general stable employment. With large scale and wide market space, our economy features great resilience and potential. In recent years, the economy has played an increasingly important role in boosting employment, which provided steady support for keeping stable employment. In particular, the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at the core attaches great importance to employment, and takes it as the first priority in maintaining stability in the six key areas, namely employment, finance, foreign trade, foreign investment, domestic investment, and expectation. Greater efforts have been exerted to implement employment priority policies, and a series of measures taken to keep stable employment amid the outbreak of the epidemic. Yesterday, General Secretary Xi Jinping again urged unremitting efforts to keep employment stable. Therefore, we have confidence and capability to maintain overall stability of the employment this year. At present, we will focus on the following aspects:
First, priority should be given to expanding employment in overall economic and social development. Policies for every sector should focus on this aspect. We should step up collaboration and linkages between economic policies (fiscal and financial) and employment policies, and support and develop the service industry, micro-, small- and medium-sized businesses, and labor-intensive industries that are able to create more job opportunities. We should also encourage entrepreneurship and innovation, develop new forms of employment and prop up flexible employment with multiple channels.
Second, it is vital to ensure employment stability. Policies should be adjusted along with changes in the employment environment. Equal emphasis should be laid upon alleviating burdens, stabilizing and expanding employment. We should implement the policies made for reducing or exempting social insurance charges in a phased way, offering refund of unemployment insurances to enterprises that limit their layoffs to a designated ratio, and offering employment subsidies, to help enterprises, especially micro-, small- and medium-sized ones, overcome their difficulties and keep employment stable.
Third, we will ensure employment for key groups of people. We attach great emphasis to college graduate employment by coordinating graduation, employment exams and recruitment, initiating online recruitment activities, setting up cloud classes on career guidance, and advising employers to postpone interviews, physical examination, contract signing and the enrollment schedule, so as to help college graduates obtain jobs in a smooth way. We also help migrant workers return to work, urging those in the low-risk epidemic areas to return to their positions as soon as possible and offering "point-to-point" direct transportation for them. We implement a 24-hour labor dispatching guaranteeing system for key enterprises. We will also realize a precise linkage between labor output and input units, give priority to assisting the poor to resume work in an orderly way, and support poverty alleviation flagship enterprises and workshops to resume operation as soon as possible so as to absorb local labors. We will carry out measures suited to local conditions and people, make targeted efforts, and guarantee key employment groups can find jobs.
Fourth, more steps will be taken to promote employment. On the one hand, we will enhance employment services to promote efficient linkage between supply and demand through online platforms offering job position information dynamically. On the other hand, we will launch activities to improve people's professional skills, establish free online training platforms, provide timely training courses for occupations in short supply and sharpen laborers' employment abilities.
Fifth, we will guarantee the bottom line of the people's wellbeing. We will offer employment aid to people experiencing difficulty finding a job due to the epidemic, offer public welfare positions for those that cannot find jobs in the market, accelerate online unemployment registration, speed up online application of unemployment insurance benefits, and ensure that unemployed people enjoy the insurances as they are entitled to. Areas hard hit by the epidemic should create temporary public welfare positions and grant unemployment benefits so as to guarantee the bottom line of the people's wellbeing.
Pivotal to the people's living, employment is concerned with one's personal development, happiness of families, social stability and long-term stability of a country. We will follow the decisions and plans made by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council to coordinate epidemic control and economic and social development, enhance employment stability measures in an all-round way, make sure that every policy is considerate and effective, and endeavor to assist the people in securing their jobs.