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1.8m Jobs Predicted Due to Olympics

The Beijing Olympics in 2008 is set to generate 1.8 million new jobs in the city, according to a report released by the municipal statistics bureau last week.

Construction, communications and environmental protection industries will provide most jobs until the end of next year, it said, but after that the service sector will become the major job provider.

The bureau estimated that between 2004 and the Games, 280 billion yuan (US$34.6 billion) will have been invested, raising the city's GDP by an average of 0.8 percentage points per year.

Wei Xiaozhen, head of the bureau's Accounting Division, said Beijing will spend 100 billion yuan (US$12.3 billion) of that figure on infrastructure construction.

"Massive construction projects, such as the 300-kilometer subway network and the 600-kilometer highway system, will create a huge number of job opportunities over the next few years," Wei said.

The city is expected to allocate more than 10 billion yuan (US$1.23 billion) to build or rebuild sports venues that will be used as public sport and entertainment venues after the event. "To operate and maintain such huge buildings, service workers will be in great demand," Wei said.

The 1988 Olympics brought nearly 300,000 new jobs to Seoul, and preparations for the 2000 Sydney Olympics meant 150,000 new jobs there. The bureau said that Beijing, with plentiful cheap labor, can expect to gain even more.

Apart from generating 1.8 million jobs, the Olympics will increase the proportion of the service sector in the capital’s economic structure, an important factor in gauging a city's level of development.

According to the report, the service sector will take up 70 percent of the city's economic volume in 2008, 10 percentage points higher than the current level.

"It is good news for Beijing to see the growth of the service sector," Wei said, adding that the service industry usually accounts for more than 80 percent of the economic volume of cities in developed countries.

Inward investment will bring Beijing and its environs a spending boom in construction, communications, postal and telecommunication services, tourism, and catering, according to the bureau, but it still has a long way to go if it is to make the Games both successful and profitable.

Wei Jizhong, president of the Beijing Olympic Economy Research Institute, said preparations for 2008 should be carried out in a cost-efficient way, with the city seeking a balance between short-term Olympic construction and long-term social and economic development.

(China Daily October 12, 2005)

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