China to take measures to support jobs amid economic slowdown

FILE PHOTO: Workers are seen in silhouette on a bridge under construction over Xinmiao Lake in Duchang county, Jiangxi province, China October 20, 2019. Picture taken October 20, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer

BEIJING (Reuters) - China will step up support for employment to cope with rising pressure on job security due to internal and external challenges, the cabinet said on Tuesday, as the world’s second-largest economy slows.

Simultaneous downturns in the services and manufacturing industries pose a major problem for authorities seeking to keep a lid on unemployment and prevent social unrest as economic growth decelerates to near three-decade lows.

“At present, China’s employment situation is generally stable, but risks and challenges at home and abroad are increasing and the pressure to stabilise employment is increasing,” the State Council said in a statement.

The government will attach equal importance to creating new jobs and safeguarding existing jobs, and make more effort to head off risks of unemployment, it said.

China will step up financial support for private and small firms, including implementing targeted reserve requirement cuts and encouraging banks to boost long-term loans to small firms in the manufacturing sector, the cabinet said.

The government will also expand investment appropriately and stabilise foreign trade to boost employment, it said.

Further, the government will extend a policy allowing firms with few or zero layoffs to recover employment insurance premiums and will also give subsidies to some firms for staff training to the end of 2020, it said.

A policy of reducing rates for unemployment insurance and work injury insurance will be extended to April 2021, it said.

Beijing has in recent months rolled out a series of measures to support small and private firms that are vital for growth and jobs, amid a bruising trade war with the United States.

Reporting by Lusha Zhang and Kevin Yao; Editing by Mark Heinrich