With a record number of university graduates and an unclear economic outlook on the mainland, Human Resources and Social Security Minister Yin Weimin said the country was facing 'unprecedented pressure' on employment this year. A statement on the ministry's website revealed his dim employment assessment. About 5.59 million students, a record high in recent years, will graduate from university this summer and join at least 700,000 graduates from last year who have yet to land jobs. Holding a university degree once was a guarantee of a secure or well-paid job, but graduates have found it increasingly difficult to find satisfactory jobs since mainland universities expanded enrolments. Liu Kaiming , director of Shenzhen's Institute of Contemporary Observation, said the growing number of unemployed fresh graduates put pressure on their families, which had to 'eat bitterness' after paying big money for their children's tuition. Mounting resentment over the situation also endangered social stability. Dr Liu said a lack of decent jobs in the services industry was a major reason for unemployment among graduates who believed they deserved as much after years of education. Mr Yin said job seekers had faced fierce competition in the market since massive snowstorms in January, the May 12 earthquake in Sichuan and floods in the south. Many firms have suspended operations or laid off workers because of the disasters. This year is also the final year in a four-year programme that will see more than 2,000 indebted state-owned enterprises declare bankruptcy and lay off large numbers of workers. Another factor was the increasing uncertainty over economic development and its concomitant job-creation challenges, Mr Yin said. He said the ministry would implement policies to encourage graduates to work in private companies or pursue self-employment. It would also encourage the unemployed to establish their own companies and hire other unemployed workers, he said.