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Unemployment Rate Stays at 4.2% in 1st Quarter

The number of China's registered urban jobless rose by 50,000 from last year to 8.32 million in this March, with an unemployment rate standing at 4.2 percent, the same as that of 2004, according to statistics released by the Ministry of Labor and Social Security on Thursday.

The statistics also showed that China's laid-offs from state- owned enterprises had been reduced by 50,000 to 1.49 million by the end of March, and 820,000 of them have signed agreements with the official re-employment service centers, which will offer training and job information as well as pay social insurance premiums for them.

The ministry spokesman Hu Xiaoyi said at a press conference that the oversupply of laborers and the unbalanced structure in employment will remain unchanged in a short period of time.

"It is still quite tough for people from China's middle and western areas, old industrial bases, resources-exhausted cities and those laid off from bankrupt enterprises or living in need to find jobs," Hu said.

In the months ahead, the ministry will step up employment service, promote the training of skilled workers, help college graduates to look for jobs, and offer more training for the jobless, people ready to start their own businesses and farmers to look for jobs in cities, he said.

(Xinhua News Agency April 22, 2005)

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