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New jobless figure coming next year
By Liu Li (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-10-22 06:17

China will announce its unemployment rate using the investigation method starting from the latter half of next year to replace the current urban registered unemployment index.

And one economic researcher said the announced figure using the new method will be more accurate even though it may be twice as high as the one currently provided.

Yu Xiuqin, spokeswoman for the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Statistics, told China Daily that authorities began using the investigation method to calculate the unemployment rate in 2000, but the figure has never been made public.

A sample survey of the employment situation will be conducted next month throughout the country together with the census, the National Bureau of Statistics said.

China has been calculating the urban registered unemployment rate since 1994, but overseas critics have challenged the figure's accuracy.

Some experts in China said one reason is that only those who registered with the government were included in the unemployment figures, pointing out that most of the unemployed residents failed to register.

Economic researchers say they believe the new unemployment rate will be more accurate.

"The unemployment index calculated through investigation will be much bigger than the current urban registered unemployment rate," Yu said.

"The change was done to follow international practices."

She said the commencement date for the new calculation would start sometime after July 1.

The National Bureau of Statistics would not confirm Yu's starting date.

"Announcement of the unemployment rate using the investigation method still needs discussions among various government departments," a bureau source said.

Wang Xiaolu, deputy director of the National Economic Research Institute under the China Reform Foundation, told China Daily on Friday that the country would benefit from a more accurate unemployment rate.

"The new unemployment rate using the investigation method will mean more people will be covered by unemployment insurance," he said.

Many unemployed people, such as some migrant labourers and laid-off workers from State-owned enterprises, are not currently covered by the insurance system, Wang said.

"I believe that the government will attach greater importance to the issue then," he said, calling the registered unemployment figure "a transitional one."

Wang predicted that if the figures using the investigation method were announced, the number would be twice as high as the current number.

The researcher said that the bigger unemployment rate would not stir frustration among residents.

Wang also expressed his hope that a figure for what he called insufficient employment in the countryside could be calculated, as well.

"For example, a three-member family has farmland of only 0.2 hectares. In fact, the land does not need that many labourers," he explained.

Wang called for accelerated urbanization to solve the problem of employment of rural migrants.

"It is necessary to close the gap between rural and urban educational services," he said, "especially in occupational education."

(China Daily 10/22/2005 page2)

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