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Q1 urban unemployment rate at 4.2 pct

Updated: 2006-04-30 07:29
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BEIJING, April 29 - China's registered urban unemployment rate stood at 4.2 percent in late March, level with the same period a year ago and with the rate for 2005 as a whole, Xinhua New Agency said on Saturday.

From January to March, the country created 2.52 million new jobs for first-time job seekers, re-employed 1.03 million of laid-off workers and helped 280,000 people who had difficulty finding jobs, Xinhua quoted an official of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security as saying.

China is adopting measures including offering technical training and providing small-scale loans in 100 pioneer cities to help people find work.

"It is hopeful we can fulfil the annual plan at the middle of this year," the official said.

China created some 9.7 million jobs last year and Premier Wen Jiabao said in March that China would target an urban unemployment rate of 4.6 percent this year.

But in February, the country's planning agency warned that China faced serious employment challenges and was likely to create less than half the 25 million jobs needed to cope with armies of new job seekers and retrenched workers.