China added 3.18 million urban jobs in the first quarter of the year, keeping unemployment levels broadly stable, China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency said Friday citing the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security.
Unemployment for the first quarter of the year in the world’s second-largest economy stood at 4.04 percent, the same rate as that at the end of 2015, but slightly down from 4.05 percent reported in the first quarter last year.
This week, the Chinese government detailed new plans to help workers who were laid off in coal and steel industries after data released April 15 showed that economic growth slowed slightly in the first quarter. Roughly 1.8 million workers are expected to be displaced due to China’s commitment to restructure its coal and steel industry.
The measures, which have been endorsed by seven Chinese ministries, focus on finding jobs for the workers and cushioning the transition as Beijing sees unemployment as a threat to social stability.
“Proper placement of workers is the key to working to resolve excess capacity,” the document issued by the labor ministry, released on April 17, reportedly said.
In March, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said at the annual Parliament that China will create 10 million new jobs and hold the urban unemployment rate below 4.5 percent in 2016. According to official data, the country added 13 million new urban jobs last year, largely in the service sector.
“There’s a pretty broad-based squeeze,” Markit economist Chris Williamson told the Wall Street Journal. Even if growth stabilizes, he said "the authorities will really want to see the job market turn around. They can’t just do this with stimulus, they need to increase restructuring."