Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Rising unemployment disturbs Beijing | Global financial crisis

BEIJING — An estimated 26- million desperately poor rural Chinese are jobless after pinning their hopes on factory jobs that dried up due to the global economic slowdown, an official said yesterday , noting that widespread unemployment could threaten the country’s social stability. 

The figures were announced a day after Beijing warned of “possibly the toughest year” since the turn of the century, calling for development of agriculture and rural areas to offset the economic fallout. Though many Chinese cities have seen double-digit growth in recent years, the countryside has lagged far behind, forcing peasants to seek urban factory jobs churning out goods that are sold around the world.

But a recent government survey showed that slightly more than 15% of China’s estimated 130- million migrant workers have returned to their homes and are now unemployed, said Chen Xiwen, director of the Central Rural Work Leading Group, a central government advisory body.

Another 6-million new migrants enter the work force each year, he said. 

“So, if we put those figures together, we have roughly 25-million to 26-million rural migrant workers who are now coming under pressures for employment,” he said. “So from that perspective, ensuring job creation and maintenance is ensuring the stability of the countryside."

In comparison, the US unemployment rate climbed to a 16-year high of 7,2% in December, meaning about 11,1-million Americans are without jobs, or less than half the number of unemployed migrants in China. 

Chen’s 26-million figure is separate from China’s official jobless tally, which counts only registered urban workers, and was estimated last November to total 8,3-million. The official government rate is widely believed to under-represent the true number of unemployed because it leaves out large swaths of the private or informal economy. 

Neither count includes the millions of college graduates trying to enter the workforce.

Chinese authorities have stressed that their priority this year will be ensuring development in the countryside, where many have come to rely on remittances from migrants working in factories and on urban construction sites, amid fears of social unrest.

Many factory workers have already taken to the streets in recent weeks, demanding pay and protesting layoffs. 

Chen outlined a raft of existing policies geared toward helping migrants, including encouraging companies to retain workers, investing in public projects to absorb rural workers and helping returning migrants set up businesses in their home towns. 

“Maintaining the stability of the countryside is a focal point of upholding overall social stability,” Chen said.

China’s economic growth — once red-hot — plunged to 6,8% in the three months through December, compared with a year earlier. Analysts have cut forecasts of this year’s economic growth to as low as 5%. Premier Wen Jiabao said in comments published yesterday that Beijing was considering new steps to boost economic growth. 

The Financial Times report did not give details of the potential plan, which would follow a 4-trillion yuan ($586bn) package unveiled in November with heavy spending on public works projects. 

Meanwhile, China’s communist rulers have told the military to strictly obey the Communist Party, reflecting insecurity among authorities as a result of the global financial downturn.

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KARAN | February 3, 2009 at 9:38 PM  

bush effect!!! All the countries are dying out of suffacation!!!

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