The Chinese government said on Tuesday it would for the first time extend unemployment benefits and other forms of emergency aid to the country’s vast population of migrant workers, as the coronavirus kills tens of millions of jobs and threatens the country’s social stability, reported the South China Morning Post.
Speaking at a State Council meeting, Premier Li Keqiang said more must be done to help China’s rural poor, as well as residents living on government handouts in cities and those unemployed as a result of the economic fallout from the virus.
“To counter the unprecedented challenges, we must take more targeted measures to guarantee people’s basic livelihood,” said the State Council, which is sometimes referred to as China’s cabinet.
One initiative announced on Tuesday will allow China’s state-funded infrastructure projects to use up to 15% of investment for a project to pay wages in an effort to expand hiring. Previously only 10% was earmarked for worker salaries. The State Council also urged local authorities to provide unemployment benefits or “minimum living guarantees” to migrant workers, who have not been covered by welfare until now.