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BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s job market was better than expected in January and February, and the country’s employment will continue to pick up this year, Wang Xiaoping, the human resources minister, said on Thursday.
The world’s second-biggest economy is warming up after the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions late last year, with both manufacturing and services activities expanding sharply since the beginning of 2023. Companies are slowly adding jobs again, after shedding staff for months.
“With an improvement in economic operation, the employment will continue to pick up and remain overall stable,” Wang said during a news conference in Beijing.
However, more work needs to be done as people are expecting more job opportunities, more reasonable pay and more reliable social security, she noted.
“In 2023, the number of college graduates will reach 11.58 million, and the structural conflict between difficulty of recruitment and finding jobs remains outstanding,” Wang said, adding the government will step up support to help college graduates, migrant workers and unemployed people.
In December, the surveyed unemployment rate of young people between 16 and 24 years of age in urban areas of China ranged at 16.7 percent.
China needs to add 16.62 million people to the urban workforce this year, the highest number in recent years, vice human resources minister, Yu Jiadong, said at the same briefing.
Markets expect the annual meeting of parliament, which kicks off this weekend, will set economic targets including the goal of new urban jobs created and elect new top economic officials.
Amid slow economic growth and stringent COVID curbs, China’s urban employment fell for the first time in six decades last year, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed on Tuesday.
(Reporting by Ellen Zhang and Ryan Woo; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Kim Coghill)