BEIJING, April 25 (Xinhua) -- China's employed population in urban areas increased by 3.44 million in the first quarter of this year, with the unemployment rate remaining low, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security said on Friday.
The figure was slightly higher than the same period last year, although in the Jan-March period the country's economic growth dipped to its lowest level since the third quarter of 2012.
By the end of March, the country's registered urban unemployment rate stood at 4.08 percent, almost flat compared with that of last year, said ministry spokesman Li Zhong at a press conference.
China also worked to improve rural employment, as 7.27 million workers in rural areas were employed in local enterprises and arrangements were made for 6.49 million workers to work in other regions in the first quarter.
Nine provincial regions, including Beijing, Shanghai and Chongqing, raised their minimum wage standards, with average increases of 13.2 percent.
By the Spring Festival, the Chinese government had retrieved delayed wages of 10.89 billion yuan (1.77 billion U.S. dollars) for over 1.5 million migrant workers, Li said.
In the first quarter, labor security supervision organizations investigated 93,000 illegal cases, inspected 398,000 employers and urged employers to sign contracts with 536,000 employees, retrieving salaries of 14.29 billion yuan and social insurance worth 250 million yuan.
Gross revenue of social insurance funds increased 18.8 percent year on year to 912.13 billion yuan, while gross expenditures totaled 730.73 billion yuan, up 18.5 percent from a year ago, Li said.
The revenue of pension funds totaled 63.67 billion yuan in the first quarter with expenditures at 39.41 billion yuan.
China's social insurance funds contain five parts, including basic pension funds, basic medical insurance, unemployment insurance, work-related injury insurance and maternity insurance.
China announced in February it will establish a unified national pension system that covers both urban residents and rural dwellers. By the end of March, 496.69 million people had been included in the system, with nearly 30 percent starting to enjoy the benefits.
Pension incomes of corporate retirees were also lifted this year, with an average increase of ten percent to improve livelihood for retirees.