Li Keqiang: The labor situation in China is ‘complex and serious’

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, No. 2 in the hierarchy of China’s ruling Communist Party, called the labor situation “complex and serious.”

In a statement on Saturday, he instructed all levels of government to prioritize measures to boost employment and maintain stability. These measures include helping small businesses survive, supporting the Internet economy, providing incentives to encourage people to start their own businesses, and providing unemployment benefits. laid off workers.

“Employment stabilization is fundamental to people’s livelihood and is the key support for the economy to function within a reasonable range,” Li said.

His comments come at a time when the country’s unemployment rate has risen to the highest rate in nearly two years, according to government data.

Every year, China needs to add millions of new jobs to keep the economy going. The government has set a goal of creating at least 11 million jobs in towns and cities by 2022. But Li said in March that he expects the economy to generate more than 13 million. this year, citing the need to accommodate college graduates and rural migrant workers.

Li, who deals with economic management in China, has made repeated calls to stabilize employment in recent weeks, and his comments this weekend are a stark reminder of the cost of China’s covid restrictions.

As the highly transmissible Omicron variant spreads rapidly in China, the country is battling its worst outbreak in more than two years. So far, at least 31 Chinese cities are under full or partial lockdown, which could affect up to 214 million residents across the country, according to CNN’s latest estimate.

More than two years into the pandemic, President Ji Xinping is doubling down on his strict zero-Covid policy, even as the rest of the world tries to learn to live with the virus. It involves massive mandatory testing and strict lockdowns.

Xi said Thursday that China will punish anyone who questions these policies.

The lockdowns have brought the world’s second-largest economy “to the brink of collapse,” according to a recent report by analysts at Société Générale.

In April, China’s giant services sector shrank at the second-fastest pace on record, as the Covid-19 lockdowns hit small businesses hard. Its manufacturing sector also shrank sharply.
The latest government data shows unemployment hit a 21-month high in March, and that was before China extended a lockdown in financial hub Shanghai and tightened restrictions in Beijing. The unemployment rate in 31 major cities even hit an all-time high in March.
The country’s huge tech sector is also facing an unprecedented jobs crisis.
The once-independent industry was long the main source of high-paying jobs in China, but major companies are now reportedly downsizing on a scale never seen before as the government continues its repression against private enterprise. The country’s top internet regulator said last month that the sector had no such crisis, but the issue is still being widely discussed on Chinese social media.

Other industries, ranging from real estate to education, have also seen heavy job losses in recent months.

Beijing is aware of the economic pain and is particularly concerned about the risk of mass unemployment, which would weaken the legitimacy of the Communist Party. Early last month, Hu Chunhua, China’s vice premier, called for “all-out efforts” to stabilize employment.

On April 28, the Communist Party’s Politburo pledged to implement “significant measures” to support the Internet economy and hinted at easing a year-long crackdown on the tech sector.

Add Comment