China’s Employment Crisis – A Stimulus for Policy Change?

Günter Schucher


In the face of severe job problems, China’s government has adopted a huge stimulus package in a bid to achieve eight per cent economic growth, which is said to guarantee at least enough jobs for the new entrants to the labour market. The real situation, however, will be much grimmer than statistics indicate. Unregistered groups like unemployed rural migrants, job-searching college graduates, laid-off workers and others together with the officially registered unemployed and the new market entrants could add up to 42 million altogether, while even the most optimistic estimates say only around 15 million new jobs could be created in 2009. Nevertheless, the stimulus package demonstrates an at least temporary shift in economic policy from capital-intensive to labour-intensive growth. Additionally, the new initiatives to boost social-security spending could help to address the grievances of the most vulnerable groups in the labour market. The Chinese government’s reaction to the emerging employment crisis once again demonstrates the often underestimated adaptability of China’s leadership.

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