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Premier Worries Employment as China’s Economy Declines

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang urged for more efforts to support employment to guard against large-scale unemployment on Friday.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (2nd R rear) presides over a symposium on employment during his visit to the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security in Beijing, capital of China, May 6, 2016.

China should shift to growth propelled more by skilled workers and innovation and continue with proactive policies to create jobs, Li said at a symposium held during his visit to the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security.

To boost employment, measures should be taken to stabilize growth, restructure the economy and deepen reforms, he told officials.

"The economy still faces great downward pressure and our pro-growth measures should target increasing employment and incomes," the premier said.

Due to weak property sector and foreign trade, China’s economy expanded 6.7 percent year on year in the first quarter, the weakest growth since 2009.

As authorities reduce capacity in some industries, they should help workers find new jobs through entrepreneurship, fiscal support, training and social security, Li said.

"We should help regions facing economic difficulties solve their problems and prevent large-scale unemployment," he told the symposium.

For those having trouble finding jobs, at least one member of each family should be employed as long as he or she is capable of working, the premier said.

Despite a downshifting economy, China has created more than 13 million new jobs in cities in each of the past three years. However, the country is in a critical transition from old growth drivers to new ones, while there remain structural problems in the job market, he noted.

More than 7.6 million college graduates, a record high, will enter the job market this year, and more jobs for young, educated people should be created, Li urged.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (3rd R) visits the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security in Beijing, capital of China, May 6, 2016.

That can be done by developing a new economy that features new technologies and business models, promoting mass entrepreneurship, and boosting the service sector, he said.

Li also called for stronger support for migrant workers and told officials to collect accurate job data to assist policy making.

By Robert Muriisa.

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