Unemployed given nice uniforms

Xinhua and Channel News Asia reported a White Paper has been released today on the situation of the 161 million unemployed and surplus workers in China by the Information Office of the State Council. Faced with a ballooning workforce and massive pressure to provide social security, the report pledged to keep unemployment under 4.7% of the nations 744 million workers.

Canada.com today said

That figure excludes, however, many workers who no longer have jobs but who remain on factory “payrolls,” and those employed in temporary or part-time work. The official figure is considered by most experts to be well below the number of actual jobless.

Figures carried in the report illustrate a steady decline of employment in state-run factories and agriculture. The number of workers employed in state factories plunged by 34.7 million, or one-third, between 1990-2003, to 69 million people.

By the end of last year, China had 256 million urban workers, or 34 per cent of the total, and 488 million rural employed, or 66 per cent, the report said. In 1990, about three-quarters of all Chinese still worked in agriculture.

It is these 150 million rural disemployed whom the report imagines will become the urban drudge workers joining 11 million urban unemployed by pushing them into low-paid city jobs, as the economy rapidly expands but job creation fails to keep up.

As for the funky uniforms:

In Shanghai, some of those laid off have been issued brown uniforms and whistles and stationed at busy intersections to act as “crosswalk guards,” policing pedestrians and bicyclists. Some drive taxis. Others are assigned to do landscaping or clean sidewalks.

Sadly, the report only paid scant attention to the national crisis of workplace safety, the human detritus of which amounts to thousands of dead and tens of thousands maimed and forced into unemployment annually.