China aims to have another 50 million people employed in the coming five years, Premier Wen Jiabao said here on Tuesday.
"China is a developing country with a population of 1.3 billion, which demands us to keep the economy at an appropriate growth rate to confront the employment pressure," he said at a press conference following the conclusion of the annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC), the top legislature.
Providing adequate employment opportunities in China, which has the largest population in the world, is a "daunting challenge", Wen said two weeks ago when delivering a government work report at the NPC session, vowing to redouble efforts to increase employment, a matter that is "crucial to people's well-being".
Wen said at the press conference the next five years is "a crucial stage for China to build a moderately prosperous society" with the existence of both opportunities and difficulties.
China will work to ensure that economy grow at a fast yet steady pace and to hold down inflation during the period, he added.
He pledged more investment in agriculture to ensure steady increase in the output of grains and agricultural products.
China spent 66.6 billion yuan (about 9.3 billion U.S. dollars) in the form of central government subsidies over the past five years to support employment programs. These programs had helped more than 10 million urban people get jobs and 8 million rural workers find jobs in non-agricultural sectors per year on average.
Tian Chengping, former minister of labor and social security, said on the sidelines of the NPC session that the employment situation will be "very severe" this year, even though China has generated 51 million jobs in urban areas in the past five years.
About 20 million new job seekers emerge in urban and rural areas every year, and China will have a large contingent of new labor market entrants for quite a long time, according to Tian.
The urban unemployment rate in the past five years was lower than 4.3 percent, but the target for this year was set at 4.5 percent due to the severe employment situation.
(Xinhua News Agency March 18, 2008)