China's official urban unemployment rate held steady at its 23-year high of 4.3% in the first quarter of 2004. The rate excludes downsized workers on company benefit schemes and jobless migrants living in cities. An official at the labor ministry's employment and training department said that, had the laid-off workers currently receiving stipends from their former employers been included, the jobless rate could have been as high as 7% at the end of 2003. Government officials projected that the unemployment rate will reach 4.7% this year. China's unemployment levels are at the highest they have been since 1980.
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