People seeking employment in China may face greater pressure to find a job this year as the country’s economy continues to face downward pressure, a senior official said on Monday.
Yin Weimin, minister of human resources and social security, said Monday at a press conference that China will experience a complicated job market in 2016 as some workers will be laid off as the government moves to reduce overcapacity. In the coal and steel industries, some 1.3 million and 500,000 people will be affected.
Yin said pressure to find a job will also increase as the number of younger job-seekers - mainly college graduates - will rise to 7.65 million this year, 160,000 more than in 2015.
China’s working-age population - those aged between 16 and 59 - has dropped by 4.87 million to 910 million, or 66.3 percent of the total population, the National Bureau of Statistics （NBS） said Monday.
In 2014, the NBS said China had 915 million workers, down 3.7 million from 2013.
Huang Wenzheng, a former Harvard University assistant professor and expert on demographics, told the Global Times that the decline in the working-age population will lead to a decline in consumption, which will further hit China’s economy.
Huang also predicts that China’s population may begin shrinking by 2023, and recommends that the family planning policy be abolished, which was relaxed beginning January 1 to allow all couples to have two children.
As China gradually loses its population advantage, the country should further increase labor productivity to offset this, Zhai Zhenwu, an expert at the China Population Association, told the Global Times.
"The most urgent task is to adjust the industry structure and enhance innovation," agreed Li Jianmin, a professor on population at Nankai University.
NBS data shows that China’s labor productivity stood at 76,978 yuan （$11,746） per person in 2015, a 6.6 percent increase from the previous year and the fifth consecutive annual gain, indicating a more productive economy, the Xinhua News Agency reported.