China job situation grim, unrest top concern

November 20th, 2008 - 3:48 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Nov 20 (Xinhua) China Thursday described the country’s employment situation as grim, warning that the global financial crisis and economic slowdown could make it even worse.Human Resources and Social Security Minister Yin Weimin told reporters that labour unrest has been the government’s “top concern”.

Worsening global conditions had begun to weigh on the job market, with the unemployment figure mounting as some enterprises, especially smaller labour-intensive ones, shut down or suspended production, Yin told a press conference here.

The minister forecast further shrinkage of job market in the first quarter, but expressed his hopes that the situation may look up in the second quarter when government measures to boost domestic demand begin to take effect.

The government had urged companies to resolve labour disputes through negotiations.

Yin pledged the ministry would help enterprises through the tough time and asked them to deal labour issues strictly according to the law.

For 2008 as a whole, the overall situation was still stable, he added, citing figures for the first 10 months.

He said the registered urban unemployment rate was four percent for the January-October period, which was below the government’s projected figure of about 4.5 percent for the whole year.

The real picture might be gloomier than statistics indicated, he said.

Yin said migrant rural workers were the worst-affected but exact figures about them were difficult to compile as they move very fast from one place to another.

Migrant labourers, whose number is estimated at 150 million, are a major economic force. Their shift from poverty-stricken rural areas to the cities since the early 1980s was voluntary and driven by their longing for a better life, he said.

Many of those who had lost their jobs chose to stay in the cities and seek other work, while others made their way home. However, Yin said, there have been “no large-scale return migration of labour from urban areas”.

He urged local governments and relevant departments to initiate special programmes like job training to help migrant workers find new jobs.

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