China adds 12.44 million urban jobs in 2023, says more effort needed this year

China adds 12.44 million urban jobs in 2023, says more effort needed this year

BEIJING — China created 12.44 million new urban jobs last year, meeting its target, but more efforts are needed to prop up employment amid uncertain economic conditions in 2024, the country’s human resources ministry told a press conference on Wednesday.

China set a goal to create around 12 million urban jobs in 2023. The job creation goal for this year is expected to be unveiled at the opening of the annual parliamentary meeting in March.

“China’s economic operation has become more uncertain with weak social expectations in 2024,” said Yun Donglai, deputy director of the ministry’s employment promotion department.

“The pressure on total employment will not decrease in 2024, and more efforts will be needed to stabilize employment,” said Yun.

Yun said more prominence would be given to priority targets, such as strengthening support for youth employment, including college graduates, and expanding job opportunities for them.

The world’s second-biggest economy grew 5.2% last year, meeting the government’s target, but it is burdened by a protracted property market downturn, weak consumer and business confidence, and mounting local government debt.

As businesses remained wary of adding workers in the face of uncertainties, a nationwide survey-based jobless rate increased to 5.1% in December from November’s 5.0%, official data showed last week.

For the full year of 2023, the average nationwide survey-based jobless rate dropped to 5.2% from 5.6% in 2022.

In a competitive job market, some Chinese college graduates are trading down to find a source of income as the youth jobless figure rose to a record high of 21.3% in June last year. — Reuters