Washington: The youth unemployment rate in China reached 19.9 per cent in July, according to the latest data released by the countrys National Bureau of Statistics.
That’s the highest since Beijing started publishing the index in January 2018, when the rate was as low as 9.6 per cent, VOA reported.
July’s high unemployment rate for youth aged 16-24 — up from a previous record high of 19.3 per cent in June — is largely due to an economic slump that China has been experiencing over the past few years, multiple China analysts said.
The economic downturn has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and Beijing’s strict containment restrictions, including the ‘Zero-Covid policy’, which reduced exports and consumer spending, VOA reported.
“They’re reaping what they’re sowing at the moment, and what they’ve sown for the last two years has not been great for the job market,” said Zak Dychtwald, CEO of the Young China Group, a consulting firm that does market research on youth in China.
The market may be even more discouraging to recent graduates and other jobseekers than the official figures suggest, said Dorothy Solinger, a professor emerita at the University of California, Irvine, who studies unemployment in China, VOA reported.
“China’s unemployment statistics are notoriously wrong. I’m surprised they’re announcing that it’s this high now, but it makes me think it may be even higher,” Solinger said.
The pandemic “has made production and operation difficult, which has reduced the ability to attract jobs”, Liu Pengyu, the spokesperson of Chinaese embassy in Washington, said in an email.
“As the economy recovers and policies to stabilize employment, especially policies and measures to help young people find jobs, are strengthened, the employment situation on the whole will gradually improve and remain stable,” he added.
The Chinese public will probably demand that Xi Jinping does more to address the unemployment crisis, especially ahead of the upcoming congress, according to Li Qiang, founder of the New York-based NGO, China Labor Watch.
“This data may give him a wake-up call. This road is very difficult and will also affect the country’s political stability,” Qiang said, VOA reported.