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China Aims to Keep Urban Unemployment Rate Below 5% up to 2010

China will try to keep its urban unemployment rate below 5 percent between 2006 and 2010 despite mounting pressure from growing labor forces.


In a 2006-2010 development outline, the Ministry of Labor and Social Security pledged to keep the registered unemployment rate in cities and towns below 5 percent, 0.8 percent higher than at the end of 2005, by creating job opportunities for an additional 45 million people.


Millions of other jobs will also have to be created to accommodate the additional 45 million migrant workers who are encouraged to leave rural areas to reduce the labor force surplus in the countryside.


Chinese officials estimate the population of migrant workers at 150 million, or 11.5 percent of the population, around double that of ten years ago.


The ministry announced late last month that 9.32 million urban Chinese found jobs in the first nine months of the year, exceeding the target of 9 million for the entire year.


As the world's most populous country, China will continue to be troubled by unemployment in future years, the outline said.


China's labor supply is expected to top 830 million by 2010. In urban regions, 50 million people will join the labor force, not including migrant workers, with a potential shortfall of 10 million job opportunities for urban residents.


Most of the employment pressure stems from laid-off workers from state or collective-owned businesses, an increasing number of college graduates, rural labor transfer and farmers who lost their land due to industrial development or urbanization.


According to the outline, the government will keep its active employment policy in place, encourage and support the private sector and boost the development of labor-intensive industries, service industries and small and medium-sized businesses.


Prejudice against farmer workers will be gradually dispelled in the process of building a unified labor market of equal competition for both urbanites and farmers.


The government will try to remove obstacles restricting rural migrant workers working in urban regions and inter-regional employment.


To help farmers better adapt to the competitive market environment, the outline raised a bold objective to provide over 90 percent of newly-added farmers with vocational training by 2010.


A universal labor contract system will help regulate labor disputes. Currently, over 90 percent of labor disputes are settled.


The government will also strive to expand social security coverage over the next four years. In urban regions, 223 million people will be covered by pension schemes, 300 million will be able to buy medical insurance and 120 million will be provided with unemployment insurance.


These figures represent an increase since 2005 of 45 million people who will be covered by pension plans.


The number of farmers entitled to pension plan will gradually increase, the outline said without providing figures. The outline stressed that efforts will be made to ensure the social security of migrant workers and farmers who lose their land as a result of urbanization.


China's burgeoning population of elderly has now surpassed 143 million.


The development outline also highlighted the need to improve labor and social security-related laws and regulations to promote adequate employment and protection of workers' rights and interests.


(Xinhua News Agency November 9, 2006)

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