China launches tougher measures for rising unemployment rate amid global outbreak

By Yin Yeping Source:Global Times Published: 2020/3/20 22:28:40

A worker assembles an escalator at a factory in Nantong, East China's Jiangsu Province. Photo: cnsphoto

The sudden outbreak shut down many businesses, followed by severe employment problems. China's State Council issued a document on Friday to speed up the recovery and stabilize employment, which experts believe will play an important role in stabilizing social and economic development.

Premier Li Keqiang gave important instructions at a teleconference on Friday on coordinated efforts to prevent and control the epidemic and stabilize employment, in which he said the government will make every effort to speed up the recovery and stabilize employment by providing more opportunities for flexible employment and entrepreneurship.

Li's statement coincides with the document released by the State Council on Friday, with the listing of a number of measures in which the government will implement to ensure the employment rate, including launching employment priority policy, expanding the employment channels for college graduates, and strengthening the security of those in need, as well as improving vocational training and employment services.

On the resumption of work, the government requires companies to speed up the resumption of major engineering projects and key export enterprises, and make every effort to promote employment in key industries and low-risk areas, starting with manufacturing, construction, logistics, public service and agricultural production.

For workers on the payroll, the document said the amount of unemployment insurance paid back to businesses will also be increased.

There will be 8.74 million college graduates in 2020, the highest number ever, according to a report by the Ministry of Education.

For helping the new graduates find jobs, the document said that for SMEs to recruit this year's graduates and sign a labor contract with them for more than one year, the government will give the companies one-time employment subsidies. 

Meanwhile, state-owned enterprises will continuously expand the scale of recruitment of college graduates this year and next year. Also, these companies shall not arbitrarily break their contracts or take the internship period as a prerequisite for recruitment and entry.

At the same time, the government will guide employers to postpone the time of interviews, physical examinations and signing up for recruitment, the State Council said.

The impact of the epidemic, which affected production and business activities, has slashed the demand for labor. According to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics on March 16, the surveyed unemployment rate in China's cities was 6.2 percent in February, and 5.7 percent in 31 major cities.

Wei Jigang, a research fellow at the Development Research Center of the State Council, told the Global Times on Friday that the current unemployment rate is high, since the figure was at 3-4 percent in normal terms and some social groups, such as graduates, will have more employment pressure.

"Although the situation in China has eased, the international epidemic is still spreading, casting a shadow on the employment rate in major labor-intensive sectors such as manufacturing, foreign trade and service industries," Wei said.

However, Wei noted that although the employment situation in the first half of the year is still uncertain, the situation will improve.

"As the pandemic is easing, more and more businesses have resumed, and with the support of national policies and the emergence of new forms of industries, we will see a rebound consumption, which will create more job opportunities," he said.


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