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Uptick in jobs despite downturn

(China Daily)

09:40, July 17, 2013

China's job market remained "generally stable" in the first half of the year despite the economic downturn, latest data showed.

China added 7.25 million jobs in the first half, an increase of 310,000 from the same period last year, Yin Weimin, minister of human resources and social security, said on Tuesday.

The registered urban unemployment rate stayed unchanged at 4.1 percent, he said.

Yin said the current slowdown is still within a "predictable range" but stressed grim challenges lie ahead in creating enough jobs.

"Maintaining a steady job market will be a long-term and arduous task," he said, adding that the labor supply between the ages of 20 and 59 will peak around 2020.

China saw a record high of 6.99 million students leaving universities in 2013, a 2.8 percent increase year-on-year, while a sizeable surplus of workers in rural areas are seeking jobs in cities.

The job data followed Monday's release of a string of economic indicators that showed China's economic growth slid to 7.6 percent in the first half of the year, the weakest first-half performance in three years.

The news put pressure on policymakers to stabilize short-term growth and employment while driving through reforms for long-term stability.

During Tuesday's meeting, Yin stressed the role of the service sector in absorbing new labor, as every percentage point of growth in that industry will bring about 700,000 jobs.

The service sector accounted for 44.6 percent of China's GDP in 2012. Policymakers aim to bring the proportion to 47 percent by 2015 and make it a strategic focus for the country's industrial restructuring and upgrading to ease reliance on traditional manufacturing.

China aims to keep its jobless rate at no more than 4.6 percent this year.

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