Statistics differ over number of urban jobs created in China

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China created 12.7m new jobs in urban areas in 2012, its Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security said.

The increase from 2011’s 12.2m new urban jobs left China’s urban jobless rate steady at 4.1 per cent at the end of 2012 – the 10th straight quarter officials say it has been at that level.

The urban jobless rate is China’s only official unemployment indicator, but analysts say it grossly underestimates the true level of unemployment because it excludes about 250m migrant workers from its surveys.

The National Bureau of Statistics said last week that China had created 11.9m jobs in 2012 in urban areas. The differing numbers highlight the discrepancies in China’s employment data which feed analysts’ doubts.

Economists at Nomura in Hong Kong said other data signalled that China’s labour market had tightened in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2012, with an index of the ratio of urban labour demand to supply rising to 1.08 from 1.05 in Q3 – its highest since the index was first published in 2002.

A group of about 20 migrant workers from Dalian in China’s northeastern Liaoning province were demonstrating outside the labour ministry yesterday as the jobless data was presented at a news conference, demanding the ministry help them collect unpaid wages after completing work on a construction project.

China’s migrant workers are the backbone of the country’s labour force, working mainly in low paid jobs on construction sites and in factories. Beijing has mandated that minimum wages rise at least 13 per cent a year during the course of the current five-year plan that runs to 2015.