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Jobs Needed for Millions This Year

Unemployment remains a serious concern in the second half of the year despite some improvements, according to the Ministry of Labor and Social Security.

More than 2 million people will lose their jobs before the end of this year due to bankruptcies or reorganization of enterprises, said Wang Yadong on Thursday. Wang is vice-director of the ministry's Department of Training and Employment.

"Meanwhile, laid-off workers in some industries and resource-exhausted areas will find it more difficult to find new jobs," Wang said.

The registered unemployment rate in China's urban areas in the first part of this year was 4.3 percent, flat with the figure recorded at the end of last year. However, it has risen steadily for the past several years, from 3.1 percent in 2000 to 3.6 percent in 2001 and 4.0 percent in 2002.

But experts say the real unemployment rate in China might be higher than 10 percent, since the official statistics do not include surplus labor in rural areas.

Increasing job pressure is caused by a growing labor force, surplus rural laborers flowing into urban areas and laid-off employees in cities and towns, said economist Chen Mingxing of the State Information Center. Despite continued economic growth, fewer jobs are being created.

However, some headway has been made. In the first half of this year, a total of 5.9 million urban people found new jobs and 2.8 million laid-off urban workers were reemployed, said Hu Xiaoyi, a labor ministry spokesman, during a press conference Thursday.

Although the delay of some industrial projects in the first part of this year had a negative impact on job creation, several government initiatives helped many people find jobs, he said.

In 2002, the central government started pushing for small and guaranteed loans for laid-off workers to help them set up their own businesses.

"The Ministry of Labor and Social Security, People's Bank of China, Ministry of Finance and other government entities have boosted their support for the nation's laid-off workers by making bank loans more readily available to them," Hu said.

Moreover, reemployment training has also helped laid-off workers find new jobs, he said.

The ministry will strengthen policies supporting small and guaranteed bank loans for unemployed people, said Wang. Technical training will also be intensified.

Unemployment control will be implemented and labor-intensive industries and service industries will be developed so that employment can be guaranteed, said Wang.

"Government approval authorities should take job opportunities into account when considering some industrial projects to create a cycle of sound economic development and employment expansion," Wang said.

(China Daily July 23, 2004)

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