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Healthy job market eases slowdown concerns

Updated: 2012-07-14 09:42
By Wei Tian ( China Daily)

Private sector 'is playing vital role' in helping stabilize the economy

China's employment market remains healthy despite the decline in the nation's economic growth, which experts viewed as a result of the booming private economy, and a sign that the slowdown is still within the comfort zone.

"The job market is in an overall stable situation," National Bureau of Statistics spokesman Sheng Laiyun said on Friday on the release of China's economic figures for the first half of the year.

"Around 6 million new jobs were added in the first half, and the number of migrant workers who have worked in cities for more than six months has increased 2.6 percent," Sheng said, after announcing that GDP growth had slid to 7.6 percent in the first half of the year.

Zhu Baoliang, chief economist with the State Information Center, said the stable employment prospects amid slowing GDP suggested that the China's economy is still on the track of healthy development.

"It doesn't necessarily have to be above the critical level of 8 percent," Zhu said.

One of the major reasons that 8 percent growth was considered as the redline for China is that it is believed to be the lowest level to generate enough job opportunities for the country's massive workforce, and to prevent unemployment which could lead to social unrest.

But the situation this year was quite different from that during the 2008 global economic crisis, when more than 20 million migrant workers returned home from China's coastal areas due to the economic slowdown.

Chen Yongjie, deputy secretary of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, said one of the major reasons is that private investment has maintained a relatively high growth rate, and is therefore helping absorb more employment pressures.

Private investment accounted for 62 percent of total fixed-asset investment in the first half of this year. Such investment increased 20.1 percent year-on-year in the first five months, and private investment grew even faster at 26 percent.

"The private sector has much more capacity to create job opportunities than large State-owned and foreign companies," Chen said.

The growing average wage of Chinese workers, which picked up at least 15 percent over the last year, was also mainly a result of rising incomes in private companies.

"Private enterprises have played a vital role in stabilizing the economy," he said.

Meanwhile, "economic growth maintains a relatively high speed in central and western China, which still has a massive demand for labor," said Zheng Dongliang, a researcher with the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security.

Taking Henan province as an example. More than half of the 1 million new workers from rural areas had been hired by several large employers such as Foxconn Technology Group, Haima Automobile, and Gree Electric Appliances Inc in the first half of this year.

However, some experts also warned about the possible rise in unemployment and the imbalance between supply and demand in China's job market.

Ministry spokesman Yin Chengji said it may take some time for the impact of macroeconomic fluctuations on the job market to take effect.

"Some enterprises have already reported decreasing demand for labor," Yin said.

China, which is still undergoing industrialization, faces a shortage of 4 million skilled workers a year, said Zhou Tianyong, a professor at the Central Party School.