But analysts say urban unemployment will be much higher in 2010 than the 10 million forecast by labour officials Beijing expects to cap urban unemployment at 5 per cent by 2010, but analysts say the real labour outlook will be tougher because official figures do not factor in rural joblessness. In its five-year development plan released on Tuesday, the Ministry of Labour and Social Security said that by last year, 60 million people were employed on the mainland, and the unemployment rate in urban areas was just below 4.2 per cent. It forecast that by 2010 the mainland would have 830 million workers and 10 million people in urban areas would be unemployed. The ministry admitted there were serious challenges ahead, with increasing numbers of laid-off workers from state and collective-owned enterprises, college graduates and landless rural residents struggling to find jobs to support a decent life. The report also said pension plans covered 175 million people and that would expand to 223 million people by 2010. In addition, 300 million people living in urban areas would have basic medical insurance, up from 138 million today. But some economists said the ministry's plan was too optimistic because its figures were based on urban employment and failed to include the serious employment and insurance gaps in rural areas. Xia Yeliang , of Peking University's School of Economics, said the unemployment rate of 4.2 per cent was false and the real rate should be much higher. 'Government officials failed to do realistic surveys before coming up with the plan and the plan has no economic data to support it,' Professor Xia said. He said most economists estimated that more than 5 million people in urban areas became unemployed each year, so by 2010, at least 25 million people in cities, rather than '10 million as the plan predicts', would be jobless. 'The real unemployment was much higher than 4.2 per cent, because the laid-off workers and [unregistered urban jobseekers] were not included in the unemployment statistics,' he said. 'In addition, there are at least 20 million underemployed urban residents who are not paid enough to meet their living expenses.' Mainland authorities have never given a rural unemployment rate because it has been assumed that rural people are self-employed on their land. But Professor Xia warned that of the 400 million rural labourers who could not find a job in their hometowns, 100 million had migrated to cities for work, leaving 300 million jobless in the countryside. Peking University sociologist Xia Xueluan also cautioned that the ministry's statistics did not disclose the real situation and the blueprint would be abandoned, as others had been in the past. 'The target is too optimistic. It's just a report to the central government and lacks the necessary social studies,' he said. He said the mainland would have at least 400 million elderly people by 2030, putting a serious strain on the pension system.