At the end of 2006, the total of employed people in China stood at 764 million, 5.75 million more than the number at the end of 2005. Of this, 283.1 million were employed in urban areas, an increase of 11.84 million or a net increase of 9.79 million. The registered urban unemployment rate was 4.1 percent at the end of 2006, a drop of 0.1 percentage point over that of 2005.
A job fair in Zhenjiang, Jiangsu Province, attracts many unemployed local residents.
In 2006, the government introduced a new round of proactive employment policies and set the creation of job opportunities and the control of the unemployment rate as clear targets for macro control. The State Council issued Some Opinions on Resolving Issues Concerning Migrant Workers, setting out a policy package for addressing these issues. It established an inter-ministry joint meeting on employment to devise overall plans for employment and re-employment across the country. The Central Government earmarked 23.4 billion yuan to promote employment and re-employment. Efforts were made to create job opportunities through various channels, improve the professional training system and assist jobless families and those facing difficulties in finding jobs. In accordance with the Central Government’s new employment policies, different departments and regions formulated a series of supportive policies and measures.
Progress was made in adjusting labor relations and protecting the rights and interests of workers. The year 2006 witnessed the most extensive and considerable adjustment of minimum wage in recent years. Adjustments were made in 20 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities. All 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities introduced minimum hourly wage.
The new employment policies proved fruitful. In particular, restrictive and discriminatory policies regarding migrant workers were abolished across the country, thereby further improving their employment conditions. The number of newly employed people in urban areas exceeded 10 million for the first time in 2006. Some 5.05 million laid-off workers found new jobs, representing 101 percent the target set for the year. About 1.47 million people with difficulties in finding jobs were reemployed, representing 147 percent the target set for the year.
Despite the progress, employment problems persisted in China. Most notably, college graduates faced an increasingly tight employment situation. In 2006, the number of fresh college graduates reached 4.13 million nationwide, an increase of 750,000 over the previous year. Their employment was one of the top concerns of society.