January 26, 2018 / 4:58 AM / 23 days ago

China's urban-registered jobless rate falls to 15-year low in 2017

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s urban-registered jobless rate fell to 3.9 percent in 2017 - the lowest since 2002 - as the country witnessed its first economic rebound in seven years, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security said on Friday.

China created a “record-high” 13.51 million new jobs in 2017, a growth of 370,000 compared with the previous year, according to an official transcript of a press briefing held by the ministry published online.

Lu Aihong, a spokesperson at the ministry, said employment prospects would become more “complicated” in 2018 due to “still abundant” economic uncertainties both at home and abroad, but he was hopeful the labor market would remain stable overall.

A record 8.2 million college graduates will enter the workforce in 2018, Lu said, while millions of rural residents are expected to move to urban areas for work, further adding pressure to the tight labor market.

Still, a “structural conflict” between low-skill labor supply and high-end job demand has become increasingly acute, Lu said.

China reallocated a total of 380,000 people in 2017 from heavy industries such as steel and coal under a government-led campaign to cut excess capacity, the ministry said.

China’s official unemployment rate has remained generally stable despite slowing economic growth and the government forging ahead with plans to cut back industrial capacity.

Many analysts say, however, that the official data is an unreliable indicator of employment conditions, as it measures only employment in urban areas and doesn’t take into account the millions of migrant workers that form the bedrock of China’s labor force.

(Corrects jobless rate to “urban-registered” from “survey-based” in headline and first paragraph)

Reporting by Beijing newsroom and Yawen Chen; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

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