BEIJING (Reuters) - China added 7.25 million jobs in the first half of this year, slightly higher than the number created in the same period a year earlier, and the job market remains stable, the official Xinhua news agency said on Tuesday.
The Xinhua report quoted Yin Weimin, minister of human resources and social security, as also saying that the services sector would play a big role in absorbing new labor, as each percentage point of growth in that industry would create about 700,000 jobs.
More efforts will be made to create jobs in services as well as emerging businesses and the private sector, Xinhua quoted Yin as saying at a meeting. It did not give details of the meeting.
"Maintaining a steady job market will be a long-term and arduous task," he said, adding that the number of workers between the ages of 20 and 59 will peak around 2020.
China's leaders have been at pains to say employment remains stable, even as the economy slows, citing a growing services sector and a demographic shift that reduces surplus rural workers.
They are worried that if the slowdown leads to high unemployment, there could be social unrest.
China's annual GDP growth slowed to an expected 7.5 percent in April to June - the ninth quarter in the last 10 that expansion has weakened, and growth prospects for the rest of the year look subdued, especially if global demand remains weak.
Yin added that the registered urban unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.1 percent in the first half.
Reporting by Jonathan Standing; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Sanjeev Miglani