BEIJING — While Chinese authorities try to control the spread of the new virus, they are moving quickly to stall its impact on the economy, especially on people’s jobs.
This past Tuesday, the powerful State Council decided at a meeting to waive some business’ contributions to social insurance plans through June, and emphasized that “stable employment” must be a priority.
These policy moves also come as the country begins a gradual return to work in manufacturing, technology and other major industries. The coronavirus that has killed more than 2,000 people began spreading rapidly in mainland China in January ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday and forced more than half of the country to shut down for at least a week longer than planned.
As of Thursday morning, about a third of 1,000 Chinese companies surveyed in the last week by research firm China Beige Book remain closed, and roughly another third are operating remotely.
Workforces are losing more laborers than hiring, and wages are on the verge of contracting, the research firm’s survey found, noting the trends were consistent regardless of industry or company size.
China’s Commerce Ministry said Friday that resumption of work in the country’s top exporting province of Guangdong has been “rapidly increasing,” while key businesses in foreign trade in provinces such as Zhejiang and Shandong have a resumption of work rate of around 70%.
But the ministry said Thursday it expected consumption will still be in a recovery period in the second quarter, indicating the scale of the virus’ impact on the economy even if the disease is curbed by March.