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Employment landscape promising despite challenges

China Daily | December 30, 2022


China's employment landscape remains promising, though the ongoing epidemic and the structural imbalance in the labor force will put pressure on authorities in stabilizing the job market.

People look for jobs at a careers fair in Taiyuan city, north China's Shanxi province, on Nov. 12, 2022. [Photo/Xinhua]

According to the latest figures from the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, 11.4 million people have landed jobs in urban areas in the past 11 months, exceeding the annual target of 11 million.

However, there is an oversupply of labor, with the working population aged 16 to 59 reaching 880 million by the end of 2021, according to a report submitted to the ongoing session of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress — China's top legislature — for review on Wednesday.

The report said that the working population will remain around 850 million over the next three years, and the large labor force will put pressure on the stability of the job market as vacancies lessen due to economic uncertainties.

Yu Jiadong, vice-minister of human resources and social security, said the job market also faces an intensifying structural imbalance between the labor force and the market's needs. "For example, attendants and skilled workers are in short supply, while some people's skills can't be adapted to the higher standards required by upgraded industry, which will hamper their career development," he said.

He said that the aging problem and weaker competitiveness of the middle-aged population are also aggravating the imbalance in the job market.

"We have tens of millions of college students graduating every year and the population of young people aged between 16 to 24 years old will reach 140 million by 2025. The young working population may face increasing unemployment when their abilities and job preferences don't meet their expectations," he added.

According to the report, the global economic downturn and COVID-19 epidemic hit industries including retail, accommodation and transportation — which used to be the main employers — and it will take time for them to once again be able to attract job seekers.

In November, the urban surveyed unemployment rate reached 5.7 percent, up 0.2 percentage point from the previous year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

"The surveyed unemployment rate of workers from rural areas was 6 percent in November, rising by 0.5 percentage point month-on-month. These people mainly work in the construction and retail sectors — jobs easily disrupted by the epidemic. However, the surveyed unemployment rate of young people aged between 16 to 24 years old fell by 0.8 percentage points from last month thanks to the government's support policies," said Fu Linghui, spokesman of the NBS.

He said that domestic employment will improve as the economy recovers after optimized COVID-19 control policies are implemented.

Guo Sheng, CEO of Zhaopin, a recruitment portal, said that the job market will recover after the Spring Festival — which falls around late January.

"The United States faced a labor shortfall as the pandemic eased. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region also saw a great need for labor when its services and financial industries revived," he said. "So I think we may look forward to good employment next year."

He added that the domestic services industry, such as hotels and tourism will resume business soon, and high-tech companies will experience a longer-term momentum of recovery, providing a good opportunity for job seekers.

To better stabilize the job market, China will work to implement an employment-first policy by releasing supportive fiscal, monetary and investment policies, according to the report submitted for review.

It said that the employment of key groups — college graduates, demobilized military members and the disabled — will remain a priority. More preferential policies and job vacancies will be offered to young graduates, and those living in the countryside with lower incomes will get more assistance with job seeking.

Also, the government will streamline administrative procedures for entrepreneurs and encourage more people to start their own businesses by giving allowances and tax or rent reductions. In addition, a more sound management system will be established to help protect the rights of flexible workers, according to the report.