Jobless urbanites to hit 10m by 2010

(China Daily)
Updated: 2006-11-10 06:40

About 10 million urban residents will have difficulty finding jobs by 2010 due to pressure from the growing labour force, according to a new report.

In a 2006-10 development outline published late Wednesday, the Ministry of Labour and Social Security said China, as the world's most populous country, will continue to be troubled by unemployment in future years.

China's labour supply is expected to top 830 million by 2010. In urban areas, an additional 50 million city residents will join the labour force by 2010, but only 40 million jobs will be created during this period.

The ministry will try to keep the country's registered urban unemployment rate below 5 per cent between 2006 and 2010 by creating job opportunities for an additional 45 million people, the report said.

The jobless rate was 4.2 per cent at the end of 2005.

Millions of other jobs will also have to be created to accommodate an additional 45 million rural migrant workers who have been encouraged to leave rural areas to reduce the labour surplus in the countryside, the outline said.

The current number of migrant workers is estimated at 150 million, or 11.5 per cent of the population, nearly double that of 10 years ago.

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

Most of the employment pressure comes from laid-off workers from State or collectively-owned businesses, an increasing number of university graduates, rural labour transfer and farmers who lost their land due to industrial development or urbanization.

According to the outline, the government will continue to encourage and support the private sector and boost the development of labour-intensive industries, service industries and small and medium-sized businesses.

Prejudice against farmer-workers will gradually be eliminated. The government will try to remove obstacles restricting rural migrant workers from working in urban regions or moving to different regions.

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

A universal labour contract system will help solve labour disputes. Currently, over 90 per cent of labour 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 in people covered by pensions plans of 45 million from 2005.

The number of farmers entitled to the pension plan will also gradually increase, the outline said without providing figures. Meanwhile, 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 elderly population has now surpassed 143 million, the report says.

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

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