[BEIJING] China's labour market was stable last year even as its economic growth plumbed a 24-year low, with the urban unemployment rate little changed at 4.1 percent at the end of December, the government said on Friday.
Chinese authorities have said that avoiding mass unemployment is a crucial policy priority, although the urban jobless rate is widely known to understate the real unemployment figure, a point acknowledged by the government.
The urban unemployment rate hovered between 4 percent and 4.5 percent in the last decade, even during the global financial crisis, partly because it does not account for China's 298 million migrant labour, which includes blue- and white-collar workers. It was 4.07 per cent at the end of September.
To improve the data, the Chinese government has devised a new jobless rate that is compiled through surveys. The rate stood at 5.1 per cent in 2014, the statistics bureau said on Tuesday. Hurt by a housing slump and a downturn in investment and manufacturing, China's economy grew 7.4 per cent last year, a level last seen in 1990 when the country was hit by sanctions after the Tiananmen Square crackdown.
Analysts and government officials expect the cooldown to last. Premier Li Keqiang said this week that China's economy would continue to face headwinds in 2015.