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BEIJING, Jan. 18 (Xinhua) -- China's job market remained generally stable in 2020 thanks to stepped-up efforts to ensure employment as the country has steadily emerged from the virus-induced economic slump.

In 2020, the surveyed unemployment rate in urban areas stood at 5.6 percent, below the government's annual target of around 6 percent, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed Monday.

A total of 11.86 million new urban jobs were created for the whole year, completing 131.8 percent of the target set for the whole year, said the NBS.

Ning Jizhe, head of the NBS, attributed the stable job market to the country's employment-first policy, as well as the joint efforts made by government at all levels and market entities.

Ensuring employment was a priority of our macro-economic policy last year, Ning added.

In December, the surveyed urban unemployment rate was 5.2 percent, down from its annual peak of 6.2 percent in February as COVID-19 brought many of the country's economic activities to a halt.

The surveyed unemployment rate among those aged between 25 and 59, the majority of the labor market, stood at 4.7 percent last month, according to the NBS.

Meanwhile, the surveyed unemployment rate in 31 major cities was 5.1 percent last month, down 0.1 percentage points from November.

For the next stage, measures to improve employment quality and ensure people's income will still be of great importance as they are crucial to boosting consumption, said Wen Bin, chief analyst at China Minsheng Bank.

China will promote employment, optimize income distribution structure and expand the middle-income group as part of efforts to expand domestic consumption, according to a tone-setting economic meeting held in December.

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