China’s unemployment rate has hit its lowest point in multiple years at 3.95 percent by the end of last month, but employment still faces challenges as the economy pushes ahead with structural reforms, the Chinese Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security said yesterday.
The ministry of human resources and social security said in a statement that 10.97 million new jobs had been created in China from January to last month, a growth of 300,000 compared with the previous year.
The figure represents the ministry having essentially fulfilled its year-end target, it said in a prepared statement given to reporters.
Despite being ahead of schedule, Chinese Minister of Human Resources and Social Security Yin Weimin (尹蔚民) told reporters that “raising the capacity to employ workers overall still faces large pressures.”
“We need to create 15 million jobs per year,” Yin said, singling out China’s more than 8 million new university graduates that enter the job market each year as one group in need of additional employment.
Yin also said the low unemployment rate in the face of an overall slowdown in the economy was largely due to the new Internet economy and entrepreneurship, adding that the ministry would actively support start-ups to help them “thrive.”
From 2015 to 2020, every one percent increase in GDP is expected to equal roughly 1.8 million new jobs, Yin said.
The labor ministry’s announcement was made as part of the Chinese Communist Party’s 19th National Congress, which opened on Wednesday last week and runs until Tuesday.
China’s official unemployment rate has remained generally stable as economic growth has dipped to a 26-year low and the government forges ahead with ambitious plans to cut back on industrial capacity.
The economy grew 6.8 percent in the third quarter of the year and 6.9 percent in the first half.
On Saturday, Chinese National Development and Reform Commission Chairman He Lifeng (何立峰) said the country’s economy is on track to meet the official growth target for this year.
“We expect to achieve the full-year growth target of about 6.5 percent,” he told a briefing on the sidelines of the congress.
On an annual basis, the official unemployment rate was last below 4 percent in 2001, when it was 3.6 percent, according to data from the Chinese National Bureau of Statistics.
The rate ended last year at 4.02 percent after not budging from 4.1 percent from 2010 to 2015.
The government has said that some sectors, especially those targeted by capacity cuts, such as coal and steel, still show signs of unresolved employment challenges.
The ministry in April said that China would need to resettle about half-a-million workers that are to lose jobs in the coal and steel sectors this year.