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Beijing Review Exclusive
Special> NPC & CPPCC Sessions 2009> Beijing Review Exclusive
UPDATED: February 13, 2009 NO. 7 FEB. 9, 2009
A Job Crisis
The financial crisis could cost millions of rural migrant workers their jobs. Both the central and local governments are taking measures to boost their employment

Now, as the economy slows down, rural migrant workers face a dilemma. If they choose to stay in the cities, it will be difficult for them to find jobs and they will have no unemployment benefits to fall back on. But if they return home, they will have little land to work and will no longer be accustomed to the rural lifestyle.

The government has paid close attention to possible job loss among rural migrant workers and has taken a series of measures to address this issue.

On February 1, the CPC Central Commit-tee and the State Council jointly released the No.1 document for 2009, a document to promote stable agricultural development and steady growth of farmers' income. This is the sixth No.1 document on agriculture, the countryside and farmers since 2004.

On the same day, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security and two other ministries jointly launched a special vocational training plan. Under the plan, the government will provide free and equal vocational training to the unemployed, including unemployed rural migrant workers. The reemployment training is to last three to six months, depending on the local situation and the personal characteristics of the unemployed person.

Delivering training to rural migrant workers is an effective way to address their unemployment, and the special training plan could also ease the pressure in the labor market by delaying the market reentry of rural migrant workers, said Wang Dewen, Director of the Social Security Research Office at the Institute of Population and Labor Economics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Chen said that the government has adopted six policies to promote the employment of rural migrant workers. According to these policies, firms in cities or economically-advanced coastal regions should fire as few migrant workers as possible; public infrastructure projects with government investment should hire as many rural migrant workers as possible; and the government will support and subsidize rural migrant workers who return to their hometowns to open their own businesses.

Some local governments have also taken emergency measures. For instance, the labor and social welfare department of Jiangxi Province, home to many rural migrant workers, said that in 2009 it would include returned rural migrant workers in the unemployment registration system, and provide a one-time living stipend to those eligible through the unemployment insurance fund.

On February 2, Wuxi City in Jiangsu Province kicked off a two-month initiative to help rural migrant workers find jobs. Under the initiative, workers seeking employment will be given a card. With the card, they can enjoy free employment consultation at local employment service agencies and attend free vocational and business trainings.

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