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China Daily Website

'Slight' slip in employment figures recorded

Updated: 2012-03-04 10:17
By Wang Xiaotian ( China Daily)

BEIJING - China's surveyed unemployment rate, which is yet to be published, has been rising in recent months, said Ma Jiantang, head of the National Bureau of Statistics, on Saturday.

Ma told China Daily that the unemployment rate has shown an increase since December.

"However, despite the slight increase, the current unemployment rate based on the survey is still within a safe and controllable range," he said.

Ma made the remarks while attending the opening of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference National Committee's plenary session.

"The employment situation for China in 2012 will be tougher than last year, due to unstable external demand and economic slowdown.

"But the difference between the two years will be slight," said Zhang Juwei, professor and director of the Labor and Social Security Research Center under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

He said the deteriorating structure of the labor market also accounts for rising unemployment: While some complain they cannot find a job, enterprises find it's more difficult to attract workers.

Ma said although the bureau has the figures, it is still unclear when the detailed survey results will be released.

"This is because the government needs to coordinate both the registered unemployment rate - which is calculated by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security - and the survey rate."

In early 2010, a report by the National Development and Reform Commission acknowledged that the registered unemployment rate may not represent the overall situation.

In the 1980s, China introduced the registered unemployment rate as an important indicator for macroeconomic policy adjustment.

It planned to replace the registered figure with survey results in 2011, but later postponed the action without explaining the reasons.

The government's official unemployment figure stood at 4.1 percent by the end of 2011, 0.5 percent lower than the officially set ceiling of 4.6 percent, according to data released by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security.

But it only counted those who register as unemployed, and excluded migrant workers and those who chose not to inform the government of their unemployment status.

In 2009, a report by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences showed that the unemployment rate of China rose to 9.4 percent while the official figure stood at about 4 percent.

Increasing worries over economic slowdown and cooler manufacturing activity compared with previous years added concerns about employment in the world's second-largest economy.

China's official PMI, or Purchase Management Index, continued its recent rise to 51.0 in February from 50.5 in January, still well below the historical average from 2005 to 2010.

Zhang Zhiwei, chief economist for China at Nomura Holdings Inc, said he expected the PMI to decline in March, as overall new orders rose only slightly in contrast with the substantial increase in inventories.

"Evidence from loan growth and sector level data also signal economic weakness.

"Also, steel production was weak during the first 20 days of February, and property and export sectors continued to cool during the first two months of 2012," he said.

China Daily

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