China says employment resilient despite slower economic growth
By Kevin Yao
BEIJING (Reuters) - China said on Friday that urban employment held up in the first quarter even as economic growth slowed to a 6-year low, but the labor ministry warned that authorities cannot be "blindly optimistic" as the pace of job creation is slowing.
The urban unemployment rate was at 4.05 percent at the end of March, little changed from 4.1 percent at the end of 2014.
The world's second-largest economy created 3.24 million new jobs in the first quarter, down from 3.44 million during the same period last year, the ministry said.
China's annual economic growth slowed to a six-year low of 7 percent in the first quarter, hurt by a housing slump and a downturn in investment and manufacturing.
"The pace of urban job creation is slowing as economic growth weakens. Employment indicators tend to lag behind economic growth," Xin Changxing, Vice Minister of Human Resource and Social Security, told a news conference.
He attributed the resilience in employment to the increased size of the economy, faster expansion of the labor-intensive services sectors, along with the government's policy to make it easier for people to set up new businesses.
"I'm confident that we can maintain stable employment as long as the economic performance is kept within a reasonable range. But we cannot be not blindly optimistic," he said.
In particular, China faces large pressure creating jobs for university graduates this year, Xin said. Nearly 7.5 million graduates will hit the job market, up from around 7 million last year. Continued...