I.Review of the work we did in 2015
In the past year, China has encountered many difficulties and challenges in its development. However, under the leadership of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) headed by General Secretary Xi Jinping, and with confidence and courage, all the people of China have worked to overcome obstacles and have pressed ahead with a pioneering spirit. As a result, progress has been achieved and stability ensured in economic and social development, the main tasks and targets for the year have been fulfilled, and major achievements have been made in reform, opening up, and socialist modernization.
The economy operated within an appropriate range. GDP reached 67.7 trillion yuan, representing an increase of 6.9% over the previous year-a growth rate faster than that of most other major economies. Food crop production increased for the 12th year in a row. Consumer prices grew slowly. Of particular note, the employment situation overall remained stable, with 13.12 million new urban jobs created over the course of the year, surpassing the year's target and becoming an economic highlight.
Encouraging progress was made in structural adjustment. The service sector as a proportion of GDP rose to 50.5%, accounting for more than half for the first time. The contribution of consumption toward economic growth reached 66.4%. High-tech industries and equipment manufacturing grew faster than other industries. Energy consumption per unit of GDP fell by 5.6%.
New driving forces for development grew rapidly. Further progress was made in implementing the strategy of innovation-driven development,the penetration of the Internet into all industries picked up pace, and emerging industries grew rapidly. Business startups and innovations by the general public flourished, with the number of newly registered businesses rising by 21.6% in 2015, or an average of 12,000 new businesses per day. New driving forces played a major role in keeping employment stable and pushing ahead industry upgrading, and are now driving profound economic and social change in China.
Living standards improved. Personal per capita disposable income increased by 7.4% in real terms, overtaking the growth rate of the economy. By the end of last year, personal savings deposits had risen by 8.5%, an increase of more than four trillion yuan. In rural areas, another 64.34 million people gained access to safe drinking water and greater alleviation efforts reduced the number of people living in poverty by 14.42 million.
A number of world-class innovations were made in science and technology.Major headway was made in the development of 3G nuclear power technology, China's self-developed C919 large jetliner rolled off the assembly line, and Tu Youyou was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. These achievements in China's development, a source of pride and motivation for our people, did not come easily.
They were made in the context of an extremely complicated and challenging international environment. In 2015, world economic growth fell to its lowest rate in six years, growth in international trade slowed, commodity prices plummeted, and there was growing volatility in the global financial market. All this had a direct impact on China's economy. They were made at the same time as deep-seated domestic problems were becoming prominent and downward pressure on the economy was mounting. While dealing with the slowdown in economic growth, making difficult structural adjustments, and absorbing the effects of previous economic stimulus policies, China was also confronted with many difficult problems and choices in the running of the economy, and this called for effective responses based on the need both to combine long-term and short-term considerations and to seek benefit and avoid harm. Finally, they were made at a time when China's economic output had exceeded 60 trillion yuan. Every percentage point of GDP growth today is equivalent to 1.5 percentage points of growth five years ago or 2.5 percentage points of growth ten years ago. The larger the economy grows, the greater the difficulty of achieving growth. In the face of these difficulties and pressures, all our people have truly exerted themselves and progressed step by step to get us where we are today. This once again demonstrates that no difficulty or hardship will ever stop China from moving forward.