China to expand unemployment benefits to lure migrants to cities

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 07, 2015 7:22 AM

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese municipal governments must widen unemployment benefits to residents who are not registered locally, China said on Wednesday, as it dismantles hurdles to urbanization efforts by easing conditions for migrant workers.

China's reform-minded leaders have shown greater tolerance for slower economic growth, viewing healthy employment levels as a top policy priority and an important condition for social stability.

Chinese leaders have pledged to loosen their grip on residence registration, known as hukou, to try to hasten an urbanization drive.

This would help migrant workers, who lack urban hukou, and are cut off, along with their families, from access to education and social welfare outside their home villages.

Lack of a local registration should no longer be used as a basis for denying unemployment benefits, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security said, according to a government website.

Local governments must also provide free career counseling and job-seeking services, and subsidize career development and skill-building, it added.

China has slowly eased household registration curbs even as the government has struggled to balance goals such as encouraging millions of farmers to migrate to cities and avoiding the slums and unemployment woes plaguing other developing nations.

Any marked weakening in jobs would raise alarm bells for the government as it ratchets up efforts to support the slowing economy. These measures included an interest rate cut last year.

China's economy created more than 13 million new jobs in 2014,outstripping an official target despite slowing economic growth.

(Reporting by Megha Rajagopalan; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)