Guangzhou businesses will pay less every month to insure their workers against unemployment. Cui Renquan, head of the city's Bureau of Labour and Social Security, said the premiums would be 'reduced by a large margin starting from January to alleviate the burden on enterprises, especially labour-intensive ones', Xinhua reported yesterday. He did not give more details. Guangzhou companies pay a premium equivalent to 2 per cent of an employee's salary, Guangzhou Daily reported yesterday. The unemployment rate in Guangzhou is about 3.5 per cent. The unemployment-insurance fund, at 8.5 billion yuan (HK$9.6 billion), pays out between 300 million and 500 million yuan a year. 'The fund is enough to pay our insured workers for a few years,' Mr Cui said. People who have lost their jobs in Guangzhou could receive 688 yuan a month in the first two years. The mainland's labour-intensive small and medium-sized enterprises had been the first to feel the effects of the global economic slowdown, Xinhua said. In the first six months of the year, 67,000 such companies, each with business exceeding 5 million yuan, have closed, laying off more than 20 million people, the National Development and Reform Commission says.