China says to publish jobless rates in big cities

Job seekers wait next to recruitment advertisements at a labour market in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, on Feb 24, 2014. China plans to release figures for unemployment in its big cities in a timely manner, the cabinet said on Wednesday, a chan
Job seekers wait next to recruitment advertisements at a labour market in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, on Feb 24, 2014. China plans to release figures for unemployment in its big cities in a timely manner, the cabinet said on Wednesday, a change that may plug a glaring hole in its economic data. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (Reuters) - China plans to release figures for unemployment in its big cities in a timely manner, the cabinet said on Wednesday, a change that may plug a glaring hole in its economic data.

The State Council said China's statistics agency would publish unemployment data gathered through surveys to better reflect trends in the labour market, and give authorities a good idea about what is going on as they set economic policies.

No further details were provided.

The government at present does not publish any reliable unemployment measure even though ensuring a healthy labour market is a top priority for policymakers, who fear widespread job losses would rouse social discontent.

A quarterly urban jobless rate published by the Labour Ministry is not an accurate indicator as it excludes migrant workers who are not registered in cities as legal residents.

The measure showed China's urban jobless rate stood at 4.08 per cent, unchanged from the previous three months.

The new jobless indicator would be based on survey results which may improve its accuracy compared with the existing measure, which requires jobless workers to register before they are accounted for.

The Cabinet also reiterated promises after its weekly meeting to help millions of migrant workers assimilate into urban life, including giving more of them access to low-cost public housing.