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China Cares: Witnessing record-low urban unemployment rates

Editor: Qian Ding 丨CCTV.com

11-06-2017 15:39 BJT

By Tom McGregor, CCTV.com Panview commentator and editor

Editor's Note: CCTV.com Panview presents 'China Cares' — series of special coverage on China's rural reforms, charities and comprehensive efforts to help those in poverty unlock their potential for success.

China's economy continues to enjoy strong GDP (gross domestic product) growth rates, witnessing 6.8 percent growth in the 3rd Quarter 2017, despite concerns the country would witness a slowdown. Well, China had experienced double-digit GDP annual growth rates just a few years.

Nevertheless, maintaining sky-high economic growth cannot be sustainable. Eventually, a bubble ensues, while over-capacity in production cause the domestic economy to buckle under its weight.

Yet if the nation's economy can remain resilient, you will see indicators in employment trends. So long as companies keep hiring, the economy can make forward progress.

Low urban unemployment rate

According to China.org, the country's urban unemployment rate has dropped to its lowest level since the 2008 financial crisis. The registered unemployment rate in Chinese cities, stood at 3.96 percent at the end of the third quarter 2017.

From January to the end of September this year, 10.97 million new jobs were created in cities nationwide, which is 300,000 more than the same period last year.

The figures were cited from China's Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security (MHRSS). However, it should be taken into account that only city residents with Hukou (residence permits) are counted in national unemployment figures.

But, Lu Aihong, a senior MHRSS official, still sees the figures as a positive development.

"China's job market has remained stable with many indicators reading their best levels in history," Lu told Xinhua.

Beijing's pro-employment policies

Chinese cities continue to create over ten million new jobs annually, which can help many young students graduating from universities find gainful employment. Beijing is encouraging more entrepreneurs to start businesses and hire more employees.

Such companies are known as start-ups. Many young people with capital from family and friends, have launched hi-tech startups, while banks have opened up their purse strings to hand over loans to them.

Beijing has also offered lower tax rates for small startups, while the education system has been revamped. Factory workers who lost their jobs, when high-polluting factories were shut down, can receive vocational training to upgrade their job and technical skills.

(Job creation is priority as entrepreneurship and innovation seen as best options to provide key groups with opportunities. Drawing from China Daily)

The future laborers of China are required to demonstrate higher levels of expertise on Industry 4.0 in order to succeed in their careers.

Positive signals ahead

Meanwhile, a number of economists have expressed concerns that China's economy will struggle in the near future, but many of them have been making doomsday predictions about the country for the past few decades.

Instead of worrying about naysayers, we can take a closer look at the real business climate of China to determine a likely scenario for the upcoming future.

"Data such as jobs to vacancies ratios and income growth suggest the labor market is still strong," Julian Evans-Pritchard, China economist at Capital Economics told Reuters.

Evans-Pritchard was quoted by Reuters right after China's 2017 2nd quarter urban unemployment figures were disclosed last July. At the time, China's economy expanded 6.9 percent.

For the 2nd quarter, the country's urban unemployment was 3.96 percent and 3.97 percent in 1st quarter.

Moving towards robot future

Beijing's push for a vibrant entrepreneurial and shift away from manufacturing low tech goods and services, could mean greater opportunities for risk-takers and innovative developers. This is known as a 'disruptive market place.'

The champions of business success are likely to become inventors and those who upgrade hi-tech manufacturing processes and introduce new devices that make life easier for everyone and appeal to mass consumers.

Nevertheless, we could see the rise of factory robots who will replace human beings on production lines. But that does not mean employment for hundreds of millions of Chinese will vanish. To adapt to changing times, workers should seek out better jobs training and perhaps learn new skills such as repairing robots.

In China's cities, we could witness the onset of a rush of robot office workers as well that perform routine paperwork tasks.

Change is necessary

Our society will never stay static. With continuous advances in the science & technology fields, tomorrow will be more different than today. Yes, new technologies can ease the burdens in our lives but they also cause disruptions.

It's great to buy a robot that can do all your household chores, but what happens when your company purchases a robot that does your job? The added convenience of robots, no longer looks like a win-win for you and your employment.

China's youth generation will be most impacted by new trends in the manufacturing sector, but fortunately younger people are quicker to adapt to changing times and could find ways to profit on the economic transition.

(Prize winners of the 3rd China College Students' "Internet +" Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition held in Xi'an, Shaanxi Province on Sept. 16-18, 2017. Photo from Internet)

There are two faces to change, one good and the other bad. We should not look at change and say, "we are ruined," but respond, "here are new opportunities."

Accordingly, China's urban unemployment rates remain low and that's a good sign.


(The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )


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