Urban jobless rate reflects stable employment market

Updated 2018-04-18 14:15:01 China Daily

China's survey-based urban unemployment rate, released for the first time on Tuesday, stood within the target range, reflecting a relatively stable job market amid economic recovery, data showed.

In March, the national surveyed unemployment rate stood at 5.1 percent, which is slightly higher than the 5-percent level registered in both January and February, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

The data come after the central government set a target for the indicator for the first time in the Government Work Report published during the first session of the 13th National People's Congress in March.

The goal is to keep the monthly rate below 5.5 percent, according to the government report.

Unlike the registered unemployment rate, the surveyed rate, calculated based on a sample of around 120,000 households, takes into account rural migrant workers and those who have not yet been registered as unemployed at their local employment agency and hence were excluded from the old indicators.

Prior to this month, the central government used to mainly look at indicators including the registered urban unemployment rate and the new urban employment rate.

Adding a new gauge reflects that the central government has put strong emphasis on the labor market as the nation steers toward high-quality growth, said Ning Jizhe, head of the NBS, in a note on Tuesday.

He said bringing China's definitions of employment rate and unemployment rate to match with those of the International Labor Organization makes it easier to make comparisons across economies.

Latest ILO data showed that the world's average unemployment rate was 5.7 percent.

The survey-based jobless indicator will provide more accurate and timely information to better analyze China's labor market, according to Zeng Xiangquan, an economics professor with Renmin University of China in Beijing.

In the first quarter, 3.3 million new urban jobs were created, including 1.54 million in March alone, according to data released by the National Development and Reform Commission, the country's top economic regulator, on Tuesday.

Looking ahead, sound economic foundation is expected to stabilize the healthy trend of the labor market, providing stronger momentum to growth as trade protectionism and economic uncertainties rise, according to the commission.

Zhao Ping, an expert with the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade Academy, said she expected consumption to continue to play a vital role in supporting growth.

China's economy grew 6.8 percent in the first quarter, according to NBS data.

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