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Thursday, 7 February, 2002, 15:00 GMT
China admits jobs crisis
Woman in bicycle factory
Millions have been laid off from state-run factories
By the BBC's Rupert Wingfield-Hayes

China said on Thursday that about 132 million of its people are unemployed - tens of millions more than previously stated.

Officials also admitted that the situation in the world's most populous nation will get a lot worse before it gets better.

Population: 1.26 billion
Estimated urban unemployed: 12m
Estimated rural unemployed: 120m
Officially unemployed: 6m

An article in the state-run China Daily put the urban unemployed at around 12 million people and said 120 million rural dwellers were without work.

The official number of jobless among the country's 1.26 billion people is around three million.

The county's official jobless rate of around 3.5% has been derided by outside observers for years.

That rate excludes the millions of people laid off from state-run industries and does not even address the 60% of the population who live in the countryside.

The new figures go some way to changing that.


Officials quoted in the paper estimated that a fifth of China's rural population is idle: perhaps as many as 120 million people.

They admitted the situation was only going to get worse as China's entry into the World Trade Organisation starts to take effect.

Many outdated state-run industries face collapse and millions of farmers are expected to be driven out of business by competition from cheap agricultural imports.

In the last 10 years more than 100 million people have left China's countryside to look for work in the cities.

In the coming decade the same number again are expected to follow.

The pressure on the government to create new jobs is only going to grow.

East Asia Today iv labour researcher Trini Leung
"We could be talking about 30 to 40-million people unemployed"
See also:

31 Dec 01 | Business
China's economy 'overtakes Italy's'
11 Dec 01 | Business
China joins the WTO - at last
12 Dec 01 | Media reports
Intense debate over China WTO entry
11 Nov 01 | Business
Taiwan joins China in WTO
07 Nov 01 | Business
East Asian pact trades up
10 Dec 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: China
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