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Employment crisis 'top of NPC agenda'
By Tan Yingzi (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-02-26 07:42

Discussions about the current tough employment situation will soar to "unprecedented heights" at this year's annual parliamentary sessions, a senior lawmaker said yesterday.

"Employment will be one of the main topics at the two meetings," Zheng Gongcheng, a member of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, said. "The discussions will focus on job stimulus policies and government investment to boost employment."

Since the global financial crisis began, about 20 million migrant workers have lost their jobs. Also, about 7.5 million college graduates will enter the job market this year, with the number of jobs available at a two-year lowin the first half of the year.

The urban registered unemployment rate, which excludes migrant workers, jumped for the first time in five years to 4.2 percent as of Dec 31, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security said. It is expected to hit 4.6 percent this year, the highest level since 1980.

In the Monday's government work report to be submitted to the coming NPC meeting, employment is a very important part of the central government's future work, Zheng said.

"Priority should be given to college graduates and migrant workers," he said.

Some experts have said the rising unemployment rate will be a threat to social stability and have urged the government to do more to create jobs.

Zheng, a scholar in social security at the Renmin University of China, said: "All the policies need huge investment. I expect the government will put more money into the employment services."

(China Daily 02/26/2009 page4)