Vietnam recorded a 2.29 percent unemployment rate in the first six months of this year, in comparison to 2.58 percent in the same period last year, according to a senior official.

Nguyen Thi Xuan Mai, Head of the Population and Labour Department under the General Statistics Office, said that in the first half of 2012, unemployment in urban areas fell to 3.62 percent from 3.96 percent in the same period of last year and in rural areas to 1.65 percent from 2.02 percent, respectively.

Also in the first half of the year, 3.06 percent of labourers were underemployed, Mai said, stating that the rate remained at 1.92 percent in urban areas and 3.6 percent in rural areas.

Unemployment in Vietnam is equal to other countries in the region and much lower than many developing and developed countries such as South Africa (25 percent), Iran (11.5 percent), the Netherlands (9.6 percent), Spain (21.6 percent), and France (9.3 percent).

Vietnam now has 47.1 million working age people, up 600,000 against the same period last year. Of that total, female workers account for 46.3 percent.

In an effort to ensure social welfare, the Prime Minister has issued a decision on loan interest rates applicable to pupils and students to help poor households.

The monthly minimum salary has also increased from 830,000 VND to 1.05 million VND, aiming to improve workers’ living conditions.-VNA