China’s steel and mine industries to shed 1.8 million jobs as economy slows

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China’s steel and mining industries will lay off 1.8 million people this year as they restructure in a slowing economy, a minister said, as the government prepares to allocate billions of dollars to help affected workers find new jobs.

Human Resources and Social Security Minister Yin Weimin that emerging businesses will help boost employment, though policies to cut industrial overcapacity will lead to job losses in certain sectors and increased graduates this year will also add pressure to the job market.

Keeping people employed will be a “very difficult task” this year, but “we are still confident,” he was quoted by Xinhua as telling a news conference.

According to preliminary forecasts, 1.3 million people in the coal industry and another 500,000 workers from the steel sector will be made redundant as a result of the industrial restructuring, Yin said.

Policy makers have made cutting overcapacity a top priority in the country’s supply-side structural reform, a key for the world’s second-largest economy to achieve sustainable growth.

They have vowed to cut steel production capacity by as much as 150 million tonnes over the next five years, and slash 500 million tonnes of coal capacity in the next three to five years.

The central government will allocate 100 billion yuan ($15.4 billion) over two years to help the laid-off workers find new jobs, Feng Fei, vice minister of industry and information technology, said last week.

Although China’s growth slowed to its lowest level in a quarter of a century, employment remained stable last year, with more than 13.12 million new jobs being created for urban residents, exceeding the official target. The registered unemployment rate in cities was 4.05 percent at the end of 2015, Xinhua said.

 

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