China’s Finance Minister Lou Jiwei said that he’d see economic growth of 7.2 percent or 7.3 percent as achieving this year’s target of “about” 7.5 percent.

The key is employment, not the exact level of growth, Lou said at a press briefing in Beijing today as part of the annual meeting of the National People’s Congress, the legislature.

Investors are trying to get a fix on the depth of slowdown that the Communist Party will allow as the pace of expansion eases after decades of export and investment-fueled growth. China hasn’t missed a target for annual growth since 1998, during the Asian financial crisis when Zhu Rongji was premier. That year, the economy expanded 7.8 percent, compared with an 8 percent goal.

While a State Council researcher said yesterday that growth of as low as 7.3 percent would meet this year’s target, Xu Shaoshi, the economic planning agency chief, said the bottom line was was about 7.5 percent, with 10 million jobs created.