China will not allow large-scale unemployment, given its ability and willingness to create new jobs and ensure the basic needs of those who temporarily lose their employment, Premier Li Keqiang told reporters on Wednesday.
"You may notice that this year's Government Work Report sets an employment target of 11 million new jobs in urban areas, 1 million more than last year's target," Li said at the news conference the premier customarily holds after closure of the National People's Congress annual session.
Li said China has created more than 52 million jobs over the past four years. He has repeatedly emphasized the significance of jobs as the linchpin to boosting people's incomes and maintaining social stability.
More than 13 million new jobs were created in urban areas last year, exceeding the year's target by 30 percent, according to the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security. China will create about 50 million jobs by 2020, according to a guideline plan on employment released this year by the State Council, China's Cabinet.
Some pressure is expected this year for job seekers, however, as a record high 7.95 million college students and about 5 million students at secondary occupational schools are expected to graduate this summer, Li said.
In addition, thousands of workers are waiting to be transferred to other posts from factories that are scheduled to cut excess production capacity.
"We will cultivate an environment that helps business startups and creates new jobs, instead of relying solely on the government. With their hard work and wisdom, the public will make 'a golden bowl' for a better life," he said, making reference to the "iron rice bowl", or guaranteed government jobs, of past eras.
Yin Weimin, minister of human resources and social security, said last week that while college graduates remain an important group, more than 3 million people from rural areas also are expected to find jobs in cities.
Che Xiaorui, an NPC deputy from Zhejiang province, suggested the strengthening of professional training and cooperation between schools and enterprises to help graduates find satisfying jobs.
Last year, 720,000 workers were transferred to other posts amid the country's campaign to cut overcapacity in some traditional industries like the coal and steel sectors, Li said. The central government spent 100 billion yuan ($14.5 billion) last year to help local governments in the campaign, the premier said.
Excess capacity will be cut in the coal-generated power sector this year, which will cause a total of 1 million workers also to be transferred to other positions, Li added.
"Jobs are the origin of wealth and the major source of residents' incomes, and we have carried out proactive policies on employment in recent years. This year, priority is being given to this area to keep a low unemployment rate," he said.