CHINA, Aug 21 – Half of the 24 million people on China\’s official unemployment rolls may not find jobs this year even if the country posts eight percent economic growth, the labour ministry said Friday.
The estimate given by the ministry does not take into account millions of recent university graduates and migrant workers, meaning the actual number of jobless could be much higher.
"Even if economic growth reaches eight percent, it could create a total of only about 12 million new jobs for the full year," Yin Weimin, minister of human resources and social security, said in a statement. "The gap between (job) demand and supply will be further enlarged from 2008," Yin said, without giving a figure for last year.
China\’s economy grew by 6.1 percent in the first quarter, and 7.9 percent in the second, but the government says it needs at least eight percent growth to keep unemployment at bay and thereby prevent social unrest.
The government has pledged to create nine million new jobs this year and keep the urban registered unemployment rate below 4.6 percent.
The rate stood at 4.3 percent in the second quarter, unchanged from the first three months of the year and up from 4.2 percent at the end of 2008, government data showed.
Earlier this year, a labour ministry official described the jobs situation in China, the world\’s third largest economy, as "grave", noting that four million migrants and three million graduates were without work.
Some critics have argued that Beijing\’s 585-billion-dollar economic stimulus, unveiled in November, did not give sufficient support to the labour-intensive sectors and firms that create most jobs.
Much of the package instead focused on large infrastructure projects that bring in quick nominal GDP growth, they said.