Industryweek 13120 Steel Rolls T

China to Cut 500,000 Steel, Coal Jobs this Year

March 1, 2017
Cuts are due to excess capacity in the smokestack sectors amid an economy that only grew by 6.7% last year -- the slowest rate in a quarter of a century.

As it continues to trim excess capacity in the smokestack sectors amid a slowing economy, China said on March 1 that it will cut 500,000 jobs in the steel and coal industries this year.

Minister of Human Resources Yin Weimin, in announcing the cuts at a press conference in Beijing, said the laid-off workers will enter a job placement program or be offered early retirement.

China makes more than half the world's steel, but an economic slowdown and sagging global demand has left the industry with massive overcapacity.

The government last year announced plans to eliminate a total of 1.8 million steel and coal jobs. It cut about 726,000 such positions in 2016.

"The whole process was smooth and orderly," Yin said of last year's cuts."There were no major conflicts or issues."

Efforts to trim China's industrial workforce have however, provoked some protests in the past by workers.Last April hundreds of steelworkers protested after losing their jobs in northern Hebei province.

Previous bouts of unemployment in China have been cushioned by a large agricultural sector to which migrant workers can return, but breakneck urbanization has swallowed swathes of farmland over the last decade.

Beijing has said it wants to reorient the economy away from relying on debt-fueled investment and towards a consumer-driven model while slimming down the industrial sector, but the transition has proven challenging.

The economy grew by 6.7% last year -- the slowest rate in a quarter of a century.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2017

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