China's urban unemployment rate rose to 4.1 per cent during the first quarter of 2003 from 4.0 per cent at the end of last year, according to statistics released by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security. The total number of registered unemployed at the end of March was 7.75m, up from 7m at the same time last year. Employment at state-owned companies fell by 1.1 per cent over the past year, while employment in private companies expanded by 2.1 per cent and selfemployment increased by 5.8 per cent.
The statistics were compiled before the effect of Sars had been widely felt and analysts expected that unemployment would be severe in the service sector in the second quarter. As foreigners stay away and locals remain at home, consumption is falling, and hotels, restaurants, stores and travel agencies have been laying off staff.