For top number-cruncher Qiu Xiaohua, China's biggest economic achievement last year was not its 9.9 percent growth rate but the 9.7 million jobs it created, according to a Reuters report.
"A reporter asked me, 'Which indicators are you most happy with?' I said without hesitation: the 9.7 million jobs," said Qiu, vice head of the National Bureau of Statistics.
Every year until 2010, China will have to create some 9 million more jobs -- just shy of Australia's entire workforce of 10 million -- simply to keep the official urban jobless rate below 5 percent. The rate at the end of 2005 was 4.2 percent, but economists believe the real rate is at least twice as high.
"Obviously, China faces far greater employment pressure than any other countries," Qiu said.
In a report to China's parliament on Sunday, top economic planner Ma Kai made no bones about how tough the task will be. "Employment pressure will remain intense this year, and continued reform and restructuring of enterprises will make it difficult to increase employment over the short term," said Ma, head of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).