China faces an unemployment time bomb

03-Jun-2020 Intellasia | Asia Times | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Strip away the veneer of President Xi Jinping’s “China Dream” policy and you will find 600 million people earning just 1,000 yuan a month.

Depending on the conversion rate, that works out at $140, or $4.6 a day.

It was hardly surprising then that Premier Li Keqiang would highlight the plight of this forgotten section of society in his annual state-of-the-union style speech at the National People’s Congress last week.

His message was stark. Although at times, it was drowned out by the static surrounding the diplomatic drama with the United States, rising tension in Hong Kong and the economic fallout from the Covid-19 crisis.

“Our annual per capita [disposable] income is 30,000 yuan ($4,203), but 600 million people have a monthly income of 1,000 yuan. That is not enough to rent a room in a medium-sized city and we need to help them,” Li told a media briefing.

Latest figures revealed that the labour force stood at around 806 million in 2018 with the most vulnerable sector being low-skilled and low-paid workers. All 600 million of them.

Most are employed by struggling small and medium-sized companies battered by the coronavirus outbreak. Shoring up employment in SMEs and micro firms has become a priority to maintain social stability.

“A big change has taken place in China’s economic structure where consumption is now the primary engine driving growth. Micro, small and medium-sized companies now provide over 90 percent of all jobs in China today,” Li said.

An unexpected rise in factory activity in May did little to ease unemployment concerns.


Category: China

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