A job seeker inquires at a company's booth at a job fair in Yichang, Hubei province, on Jan 2, 2021. [Photo by Wang Jianfeng/for China Daily] Total of 11.9 million jobs created in urban areas last year, ministry says The nation's job market steadily regained its momentum in 2020, with about 11.9 million urban jobs added throughout the year, outperforming the planned target of 9 million, according to data released on Tuesday by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security. The surveyed unemployment rate in urban areas fell to 5.2 percent in December after rising to a historic high of 6.2 percent in February. "The year 2020 was surely a remarkable one in the history of employment, when great efforts were made to stabilize the job market," Zhang Ying, an official in the ministry's employment promotion department, said during an online news conference on Tuesday. To offset the negative impact of the pandemic, the ministry released 28 new policies in 2020, including the reduction of 1.54 trillion yuan ($238 billion) in payments made by enterprises and entrepreneurs for endowment, unemployment and job-related injuries insurance. Helping formerly poverty-stricken people to find stable employment was another important measure taken in 2020. "We've organized these formerly poverty-stricken people to work away from their hometowns and given them priority in joining any job-hunting campaigns." The government has also channeled great efforts and resources to further encourage entrepreneurship and innovation in order to ease employment pressures, including raising the credit limit for entrepreneurs and canceling a number of administrative fees. However, the job market still faces an uncertain future due to the recently recurring sporadic COVID-19 cases and the unstable foreign trade environment. Chen Lixiang, vice-dean of Peking University's China Institute for Occupation Research, said the outlook for China's job market would improve in 2021"thanks to the government's experience in controlling the epidemic, but there are challenges yet to be tackled". Market uncertainties "Along with the pandemic, the current foreign trade environment and problems brought by the technological revolution have all put pressure on the job market," Chen said. "For example, the technological revolution requires employees to have greater skills, as does the adjustment of the economic structure, and exerts more and long-term pressure than emergency events such as COVID-19." He said that any measures that can create more employment for job hunters are welcome. "In the short term, the government can give small and medium-sized companies incentives to let them recruit more people, including migrant workers, and release more supportive policies to attract more entrepreneurs." "In the long run, offering workers training courses to improve their skills is of great importance, which can improve their capacity of withstanding possible risks and surviving the technological revolution," he said.