The government said it plans to create nine million jobs in 2004 and keep the official registered unemployment rate in cities below 4.7%.
The targets for 2003 were eight million new jobs and a 4.5% unemployment rate.
But even state media reports say that the government's statistics fail to reflect the true unemployment situation and that most Chinese labor experts believe that when including the unregistered jobless and laid-off workers, China's real unemployment rate would be as high as 15% and rising.
In addition to pressures from increasing layoffs in China's inefficient state-owned enterprises, the number of university entrants was doubled four years ago, in effect doubling the number of graduates looking for employment from 2003.
Latest statistics show the starting annual salary of university graduates dropped by 40% in 2003 compared with the previous year.