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China plans subsidies for unemployed migrants

China plans subsidies for unemployed migrants

China announced plans Thursday to assist millions of unemployed migrant workers with increases in grain subsidies and rural infrastructure projects, a top Agriculture Ministry official said.
The collapse in global demand for Chinese toys, shoes and other goods has forced 20 million migrants out of work and back to their rural villages. Communist leaders worry that more layoffs could spark unrest and are promising to spend heavily to create jobs.
"The employment outlook for migrant workers cannot be optimistic for the future, which will exacerbate the difficulty more than ever to keep rural income growing," said Vice Minister Agriculture Wei Chaoan at a press conference on the sidelines of the annual legislative session. In some regions, unemployment for migrant workers ran as high as 25 to 33 percent.
The government will try to increase job opportunities by ramping up the development of agriculture and rural infrastructure projects, Wei said.
The new plan also calls for providing subsidies to farmers for farm equipment and improving methods of planting rice, wheat, corn, cotton, rapeseed and soybean. The Chinese government guarantees a minimum purchase price for grain in order to ensure robust grain reserves and maintain stable rural incomes.
Although the total number of rural laborers employed in urban areas increased in 2008 by 4.78 million, a 3.6 percent rise, it was still 2.4 percent less than the previous year and represented the slowest growth since 2000, Wei said.
Plans also call for providing work in rural areas for migrants on infrastructure projects, including irrigation, construction and transportation.