Employees work in front of computers in a testing facility at the EHang Inc. headquarters in Guangzhou, China. (Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)

China Says It Created a France-Sized Pile of New Jobs Since 2012

(Bloomberg) -- With China’s labor market looking the best it has in years, a new report shows new jobs created in urban areas over the last five years nearly equal the population of France.

Cities have added more than 65 million jobs since late 2012, keeping unemployment low, Yin Weimin, minister of human resources and social security, said Thursday, according to a report by the official Xinhua News Agency. The employment rate for college graduates -- including almost 8 million this year alone -- exceeded 90 percent over that time, Yin said.

That’s welcome news in Beijing, where leaders have already met their goal to add 11 million new urban jobs this year as they put greater focus on cutting debt and excess capacity.

The labor market overall has been looking solid. The urban surveyed jobless rate for 31 major cities was 4.83 percent in September, the lowest since 2012, and 4.9 percent in November, according to the statistics bureau. It may be kept at about 5 percent next year as the economy creates 13.5 million new jobs, the State Information Center said this week.

Meanwhile, the official unemployment rate, often discounted by economists as it has rarely fluctuated -- even during the global financial crisis -- dropped to 3.95 percent in the second quarter, the lowest since 2002, and remained at the same level in the third quarter.

Such readings are well-timed as the economy heads into 2018 facing challenges from an effort led by President Xi Jinping to close unprofitable state enterprises and shutter polluting plants to meet environmental goals.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Jeff Kearns in Beijing at jkearns3@bloomberg.net.

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.

With assistance from Jeff Kearns