Special Report: Global Financial Crisis
By Xinhua Writer Cheng Yunjie
WUHAN, Nov. 19 (Xinhua) -- With an influx of 300,000 rural migrants back from China's cities in the past two months, the central Hubei Province has ordered some companies to seek approval for job cuts to stabilize the job market.
Under an emergency program to deal with rising unemployment, large state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in Hubei were this month required to reduce salaries first before dismissing staff. Large SOEs and medium-sized local companies need to secure approval for cuts involving at least 50 people.
Struggling small businesses in counties and townships were urged to refrain from cutting jobs intensively so as to ease the burden on the local government-financed unemployment insurance fund.
The order along with government measures such as expanding small loans, easing market access and subsidizing vocational training came amid indications that economic growth and exports are slowing.
With production cutbacks and closures of export-oriented companies on the east coast amid weakening demand, Hubei, which had a yearly rural labor outflow of 7 million, was the first of the central and western provinces to respond.
About 200,000 returning workers have been re-employed locally in two months. As the global financial crisis affects the economy, a total of 600,000 are expected to come back by year end, say local officials.
Hubei Provincial Labor and Social Security Bureau deputy director Zhou Layuan was confident the province's employment situation would remain stable before the Spring Festival, which falls on Jan. 25, 2009 and an important occasion of family reunion.
"For a clear picture of the impact of the crisis on Hubei's employment, we should wait until after the Spring Festival. It all depends on how the national economy plays out and how many rural migrants come home," he said.
China's migrant laborers, estimated at between 130 million and 150 million, are a significant economic indicator as their migration from poverty-stricken rural areas to the cities since early 1980s was voluntary and powered by their simple longing for a better life.