Premier Wen Jiabao has warned that the mainland faces a stark employment outlook and stressed that job creation is a top priority for the central government.
'The country's employment situation will grow more complex and severe,' Wen (pictured) told a State Council meeting in Beijing yesterday, according to a statement posted on the central government's website.
The warning follows his bleak comments on Sunday that the world's second largest economy is yet to build momentum for a stable rebound following the posting of its weakest quarterly growth figures in three years.
Wen urged governments at all levels to work hard to ensure 'full employment', adding that generating new jobs should be at the centre of all plans for developing and restructuring the economy.
He emphasised the importance of finding jobs for university graduates. The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security estimated last month that this year's crop of university graduates will top 6.8 million - a record high.
The State Council also pledged to provide policy incentives and reduce burdens on the private sector, especially small and very small businesses that are a major source of new jobs.
Wen said the mainland had managed to keep its labour market 'basically stable' up to now, despite a rapidly expanding labour force. Between 2003 and last year, 98 million jobs were created in urban areas.
The mainland registered year-on-year gross domestic product growth of just 7.6 per cent between April and June, a marked slowdown from the 8.1 per cent in the first quarter. Mainland economists have previously said that an 8 per cent growth rate is needed to create enough jobs to avoid political and social troubles.
The International Monetary Fund cut its growth forecast for the mainland economy on Monday, saying a 'hard landing' was still possible. It reduced its growth outlook for the year by 0.2 percentage points, to 8 per cent, and its forecast for next year by 0.3 points, to 8.5 per cent.