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SCIO press conference on China's economic performance in 2023

China.org.cn | January 26, 2024


Southern Metropolis Daily:

I would like to ask about the employment situation in 2023. Have the targets and tasks been accomplished? Also, the number of graduates from universities and colleges in 2024 is expected to reach a new high. What can we expect in terms of employment trends? Thank you.

Kang Yi:

Thank you for your questions. Employment is also a matter of great concern to everyone because it is the most important livelihood issue. The CPC Central Committee and the State Council have consistently attached high importance to employment, taking the stability of employment to a strategic level and considering it comprehensively. All regions and departments have prioritized employment, optimizing and adjusting policies and measures to stabilize employment. In the past year, we have made every effort to stabilize the overall employment situation and the employment situation has improved. There have been several notable changes.

First, the surveyed unemployment rate has decreased, and new employment continues to increase. On a quarterly basis, the average surveyed urban unemployment rates across the country were 5.4%, 5.2%, 5.2%, and 5.0%, respectively, indicating a noticeable improvement in employment trends. From January to November, the number of new urban employment was 11.8 million, with an increase of 350,000 people compared to the same period last year.

Second, there has been strong employment support for key and vulnerable groups. A series of measures to stabilize and expand employment have been implemented effectively. The results of targeted assistance for employment difficulties among various groups, including migrant workers, youth, and individuals facing employment challenges, have been prominent. In 2023, the total number of migrant workers reached 297.53 million, an increase of 1.91 million from the previous year. The average surveyed urban unemployment rate for rural migrant workers decreased by 0.7 percentage point compared to the previous year, reaching 4.9%. From January to November, 4.75 million unemployed individuals in urban areas found new jobs, and 1.56 million individuals facing employment difficulties secured jobs.

Third, the scale of employment for individuals who have been lifted out of poverty has maintained a steady increase. Various regions and departments have fully utilized mechanisms such as east-west labor cooperation, paired assistance, and targeted support to provide targeted assistance to key poverty-stricken counties and for people relocated from inhospitable areas. As a result, the employment of people who have been lifted out of poverty has steadily increased. As of the end of November 2023, the number of employed individuals from poverty-stricken backgrounds reached 32.94 million, exceeding the target of 30 million.

The overall assessment of this year's employment situation is that there is still pressure, and structural contradictions in employment for certain groups and industries may remain prominent. However, with the recovery of the economy and the acceleration of industrial transformation and upgrading, the positive factors for stable employment are also accumulating. It is expected that China's employment situation will remain stable. There are several reasons for this.

First, the expansion of the economic scale leads to an increase in employment. Economic growth is the foundation for stable and expanded employment. In recent years, the continuous expansion of China's economic standing has been the key driver of employment growth. It is expected that the increment created by China's economy in 2024 will be greater than last year, which will provide strong support for expanding employment. Second, the population size exiting the labor market in 2024 will be larger than the population entering the labor market, providing more employment opportunities for job seekers. Third, upgrading the industrial structure expands employment capacity. Compared to other industries, the service industry, which has a higher labor intensity, has obvious advantages in job creation. Since last year, the service industry has shown good recovery momentum, and its share in GDP has been increasing. The share of the service sector in GDP has already exceeded pre-COVID-pandemic levels, and the employment-driving effect in industries such as catering, transportation, wholesale, and retail is relatively obvious. Looking ahead to this year, service consumption will be active, and the growth of the service industry will continue to be one of the main forces driving employment. At the same time, the vigorous development of new industries, new formats, and new business models has created many new job demands, which also contribute to expanding employment opportunities and improving employment quality. Fourth, stable employment policies continue to play their due roles and achieve the desired effect. The Central Economic Work Conference has also made arrangements for this, particularly emphasizing the need for policies that are conducive to stabilizing expectations, stabilizing growth, and stabilizing employment. Localities and departments will prioritize employment and increase support for key groups, while the release of policy dividends is expected to continue to provide a strong guarantee for employment stability. Thank you.

Shou Xiaoli:

Thank you to the two speakers, and thank you to all the participating journalists. Today's press conference ends here. Goodbye, everyone.

Translated and edited by Xu Xiaoxuan, Wang Yiming, Liu Sitong, Wang Yanfang, Xu Kailin, Yang Xi, Wang Ziteng, Li Huiru, Li Xiao, Zhang Junmian, Liu Jianing, Huang Shan, Wang Qian, Qin Qi, Yuan Fang, Lin Liyao, Zhou Jing, Zhang Tingting, Liu Caiyi, Wang Wei, Zhang Rui, David Ball, Tom Arnsten, and Jay Birbeck. In case of any discrepancy between the English and Chinese texts, the Chinese version is deemed to prevail.

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