The pace of job creation remained steady in the first quarter, with about 3.24 million new positions－virtually flat year-on-year－the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security announced on Tuesday.
The ministry said the registered unemployment rate, based on unemployed workers who have registered with the ministry, stood at 3.67 percent in urban areas in the first quarter, a slight decrease of 0.22 percentage points. The urban surveyed unemployment rate, based on surveys from the national bureau of statistics, was 5.2 percent in March.
Also, the ministry granted subsidies of 1.17 billion yuan ($170 million) to 21,000 companies to help them stabilize the positions available to workers in the past three months, benefiting 2.83 million people.
Zhang Ying, director of the ministry's employment promotion department, said the country's major employment indicators remain in a reasonable range, while the 3.24 million newly created urban jobs in the last three months contributed to 29 percent of the annual employment target.
"Employment of some key groups－for example, migrant workers－also maintained steady growth," she said. "Data cited by the National Bureau of Statistics showed that the population of migrant workers from rural areas was 177 million, an increase of 2.1 million over last year."
She added that 1.17 million laid-off workers found new jobs in the first quarter.
However, the job market still faces critical challenges due to continuous pressure from the economic downturn, the ministry said. In addition, the structural imbalance between positions available and the short supply of skilled workers aggravated the imbalance.
Stabilizing employment is among the key State-level policies. The ministry said it will continue to help secure jobs for some key groups, including college graduates, migrant workers and demobilized members of the military through enhanced training programs and public services.
For example, 27,000 college graduates are projected to be recruited by human resources and social security bureaus at all government levels nationwide to support education, agriculture, medical services and poverty alleviation at the grassroots.
"We are working to hold an employment fair every month and make employment services and information available to job-seekers when they need it," Zhang said.
Zhou Ling, a 26-year-old from Shanghai who will graduate from Fudan University in June, said she felt great pressure to find a good job.
"Most of my peers chose to be teachers in Shanghai, as the job is rather stable, but the competition is fierce," she said. "Actually, I had two offers already but I want to try more companies to get a job that has better financial benefits and social status."