China's top labor official says that with 24 million new people set to enter the urban labor market this year and millions of urban dwellers already out of work, the government is facing "great difficulties" in creating new jobs. Daniel Schearf reports from Beijing.
Tian Chengping, China's Minister of Labor and Social Security, told a press briefing Tuesday that Chinese cities are expected to have 24 million new job seekers this year, but at the most only half that many new jobs.
Tian says although China's fast-growing economy is helping to create new work opportunities, the jobs are not being created fast enough. The government faces "great difficulties," he says, in putting everyone to work.
He says there will be added strain this year as state-owned companies continued to lay off workers, a record number of graduating university students seek jobs for the first time, and migrant laborers continue to stream into cities looking for better opportunities.
"Our analysis at present of the employment situation is that in the coming few years, employment pressure will still be very great, and the employment situation will be very serious," he said.
This year, almost five million students are expected to graduate from universities, the highest number in years, and Tian says this will increase pressure on the job market.
In spite of the employment concerns, factories in manufacturing centers like the southern province of Guangdong have had trouble finding enough workers.
Tian dismissed that problem, saying any labor shortages were temporary, and most likely related to companies having trouble finding skilled labor.
He says the government will increase support for job seekers and the unemployed through job fairs and worker training programs.
But he warned university graduates not to set their expectations for jobs too high. Only 70 percent of them will find work upon graduation, he says, and they should consider jobs not just in the relatively well-off big cities, but also in China's poorer central and western regions.