© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Job seekers attend a job fair in Beijing, China February 16, 2023. REUTERS/Florence Lo
BEIJING (Reuters) -China’s job market remains tough, and it is becoming especially hard for college graduates to find jobs, vice Human Resources minister Yu Jiadong said on Thursday.
China’s cabinet on Wednesday unveiled plans to boost employment, including supporting financial institutions to offer loans to small firms and issuing subsidies to firms that hire college graduates or unemployed young people.
“Employment is steady, but under pressure, steady but also worrying, and the employment pressure for young people such as college graduates remains very big,” Yu told a news conference.
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The government will strive to achieve its job creation target this year, Yu said, while noting the uncertainty hanging over the global economic outlook.
The latest job-supporting steps come as the world’s second-largest economy is staging a gradual but uneven recovery from one of its worst showings in nearly half a century last year.
Efforts will be made to support firms hiring more people, and a proportion of unemployment insurance fees will be returned to firms that refrain from laying off workers, Yu said.
The cabinet said that China would issue subsidies to some firms that hire college graduates and unemployed youths till the end of this year and would encourage state-owned firms to expand their recruitment.
The government aims to create around 12 million urban jobs in 2023, up from last year’s target of at least 11 million.
A record 11.58 million college graduates will hit the job market this year, with the economy still feeling the impact from COVID-19 curbs that were removed in late 2022 and a crackdown on tech and education sectors.
China’s private firms, which account for over 60% of output and 80% of urban employment, have been hit hard by COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions over the past three years.
China’s survey-based jobless rate was 5.3% in March, but for 16-24 years old it was 19.6%, near a record high, official data showed.
Queues stretching hundreds of metres around temples have become a common sight in Chinese cities at weekends, as despondent young worshippers pray to find jobs.