The proportion of unemployed urban workers at the end of September was 3.9 per cent, having risen from 3.6 per cent at the end of 2001, according to figures released by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security. At the end of that month, 7.5m urban workers were officially unemployed with a further 4.4m 'laid off' by their firms but still receiving from them a maintenance allowance. The ministry added that the unemployment rate was set to increase further, but it expected to keep it within the forecast of 4.5 per cent by the end of the year.
In September, President Jiang Zemin described the jobless situation as "very grim". He urged the government to do more to help unemployed workers find jobs and to improve welfare benefits.