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July 25 (Bloomberg) -- China released two measures of unemployment that had a divergence of almost 1 percentage point, underscoring a lack of clarity on the job market in the world’s second-largest economy.

While the first Friday of the month in the U.S. typically sees investors, policy makers and members of the public eagerly awaiting the American employment report, no such equivalent exists for China. Today, one Chinese ministry said the registered urban jobless rate was 4.08 percent at the end of June, two days after another agency said the urban jobless rate was 5.05 percent, based on a 31-city survey.

The reports pit the registered rate, which excludes more than 200 million migrant workers, against the newer surveyed rate, whose methodology is undisclosed. The absence of reliable figures on employment has kept economists guessing on how deep of a slowdown China can tolerate without affecting jobs.

“The new survey-based unemployment data should fill some gaps, especially on calculating the unemployment rate of the population that’s not locally registered,” said Yao Wei, a China economist at Societe Generale SA in Paris. The urban registered jobless figures are “almost meaningless,” she said.

The 4.08 percent number given by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security was unchanged from March, a report from the official Xinhua News Agency showed. By contrast, the National Development and Reform Commission said on its website the surveyed rate of 5.05 percent had declined for four straight months, without elaborating.

The NDRC, China’s top economic-planning agency, said in April that the surveyed rate was 5.17 percent at the end of March. This week’s figure was the first publicly released update since then. The urban registered rate, not the surveyed number, shows up in official compilations by the National Bureau of Statistics.

The registered urban jobless rate has remained in a range of 4 percent to 4.1 percent since 2010, according to government figures.

The NDRC didn’t immediately respond to a faxed request for comment today, while calls to the labor ministry went unanswered.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Xiaoqing Pi in Beijing at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Anstey at Scott Lanman

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