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Number of jobless may peak next year
By Fu Jing (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-11-25 05:50

The number of unemployed Chinese in cities is about to hit 17 million next year, the peak year in the coming five years, according to a top economic planner.

Considering a pool of 150 million surplus workers in the countryside, the job market in China is still "complicated and grave," said Du Ying, vice-minister of the National Development and Reform Commission.

The number of unemployed Chinese in cities is about to hit 17 million next year, the peak year in the coming five years, according to a top economic planner.
Job hunters flock to an employment fair in Chongqing Municipality in southwest China November 23, 2005. More than 300 enterprises from the city and Jiangsu and Guizhou provinces are offering 13,000 job vacancies at the fair which attracted about 100,000 students expected to graduate from universities in Chongqing in 2006. [newsphoto]

At a recent meeting of his commission, Du said the annual average number of jobless people will reach 12.3 million during 2006-10 period, and the peak year is 2006.

The Ministry of Labour and Social Security held a different view, saying that the unemployment rate for next year will be lower than the average of the country's 11th Five-Year Plan period.

Approved by the State Council, the ministry has set a registered urban unemployment rate of 4.6 per cent for 2006. But Labour Minister Tian Chengping recently said the annual registered joblessness rate is expected to average at 5 per cent in the coming five years.

With a massive influx of labour supply, the urban registered unemployment rate has gone up from 3.1 per cent in 2000 to 4.2 per cent at the middle of this year.

The researchers said the real joblessness rate in the cities is around 7-8 per cent as many were not registered.

Du said China's economy, despite its stable growth, will bring "no evident increase" in creating jobs during coming years.

The State Information Centre affiliated to Du's commission said earlier that China will achieve an average annual economic growth rate of 7.6 per cent until 2020. In this benchmark year, the nation will achieve the status of becoming an "all-around well-off society." This rate is lower than during the 1978-2004 period, when growth averaged at 9.4 per cent. The centre, a major data provider for the NDRC, also forecasted that China's economy will grow at 8 per cent annually in the coming five years.

"But we still meet skilled labour shortage in some sectors," said Du, adding that most of laid-off employees and rural surplus are short of basic occupational training.

Tian's ministry said there is a shortage of skilled workers in many industries, especially in major economic powerhouses, such as the Yangtze River Delta and the Pearl River Delta.

The government has already launched a project to train a total of 500,000 skilled workers nationwide by the end of 2006.

Statistics show that among the nation's 70 million workers, senior technicians account for only 3.5 per cent, compared with a 40 per cent ratio in developed countries.

Rich-poor gap

Du also said the gap between the rich and poor is expected to further widen.

The Gini coefficient, a widely accepted measure of inequality in which zero expresses complete equality while one represents complete inequality, has exceeded 0.4 in China in 2000, the international benchmark for alarm.

"The gauge has come close to 0.45 and showed a trend towards increasing further," said Du. He said income disparity also exists between rural and urban farmers, coastal areas and western inland regions.

"Faced with the serious situation," said Du, "we will take tougher measures in the coming years to curb the increasing disparity."

(China Daily 11/25/2005 page2)

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