China's state-owned enterprises laid off an estimated 1.53m workers in 2004, down from about 2.6m laid off in 2003, state media reported, citing the Ministry of Labor and Social Security. Unemployment as a whole, meanwhile, dropped slightly to 4.2% in 2004, down by 0.1% from 2003, Xinhua said. Unofficial estimates put China's unemployment figures considerably higher, however. It does not, for example, include workers at SOEs who have been laid off but still receive limited benefits such as housing from their former employers. It also leaves out hundreds of millions of people in the countryside who are either underemployed or entirely without a job.