China’s Premier Li Keqiang on Monday pledged to create at least 10 million new jobs in the country in 2015 by ensuring high economic growth, according to a report by state-run China Daily. Li’s comments, reportedly made at a meeting with economic experts and business leaders, come just a week after official government figures showed that China’s GDP expanded by 7.4 percent in 2014 -- down from 7.7 percent in 2013.
Li said that 22 million people are expected to join the country’s labor force in 2015, especially in rapidly expanding sectors such as Internet and information technology. “Stress tests show the possibility of a large amount of unemployment, which could lead to social instability if the economy cools down too fast,” Li reportedly said.
China’s growth is expected to slow further over the next three years, even as the government attempts to control falling real estate prices, strengthen the job market and rein in excessive borrowing by local governments. According to an estimate by the International Monetary Fund, the country’s economy is expected to grow at 6.8 percent in 2015.
In a statement released last week, China’s National Bureau of Statistics, which presented the latest growth figures as evidence that the country is successfully shifting from an unsustainable export-led boom to a domestic demand-fuelled growth, had said that the “national economy has been running steadily under the ‘new normal,’ showing good momentum of stable growth, optimized structure, enhanced quality and improved people’s livelihood,” referring to the term first used by President Xi Jinping to rationalize a period of comparatively slower economic growth.
However, on Tuesday, even as China’s factory profits fell to a two-year low, government officials reportedly acknowledged that the slowdown could last a while.
“As the economy enters the ‘new normal,’ the industry sector faces increased downward pressures, unreasonable structures, weak innovation capability,” an official at the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said on Tuesday, according to a report by Reuters.