08/05/2009, 00.00
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Unemployment still high in China

The government admits there are still 4 million unemployed migrant workers in the country’s urban areas. Concern remains high because the world economy remains in critical conditions and China’s output is still too export-oriented.
Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Unemployment remains high in China despite signs the economy might have picked up steam in the first half of the year. In fact the “employment situation is still grave and the pressure to create more jobs is still huge,” according to Wang Yadong, a senior official with the Human Resources and Social Security Ministry.

The job creation that has taken place is largely due to the government’s 4 trillion yuan (US$ 550 billion) stimulus package. But so far it has proven insufficient to absorb all the joblessness caused by the closure of tens of thousands of plants, especially in Guangdong, as a result of declining exports.

What is more, the world’s economic crisis is not likely to end any time soon. And Chinese companies, which are largely export-oriented, are expected to cut more jobs.

Mr Wang said that about half of the country's 140 million migrant workers went home for the Lunar New Year, with 68 million returning to the cities. They were joined by 10 million new rural migrants who moved to cities to find jobs. Now there are an estimated 148 million migrant workers in urban areas, 4 million of them without a job.

This admission is in contrast with the optimism shown by his ministry when it announced on July 24 that second-quarter jobs data were "better than expected", this despite a previous forecast by a top agricultural official Chen Xiwen, who estimated that this year up to 20 million migrant workers might not be able to find employment again.

Experts note that many of the new jobs are linked to large scale public projects and could disappear once they are completed.

Those who still have a job in China’s industrial hub of Guangdong have had to cut back the number of hours of work and thus accept smaller wages. 

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