Sat. Mar 2nd, 2024

Angle down icon An icon in the shape of an angle pointing down. Students from Wuhan University hold flags during the graduation ceremony in the school’s stadium on June 20, 2023 in Wuhan Ren Yong/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images China’s youth unemployment rate may be severely skewed, a Peking University professor wrote. While official statistics for March cited a 19.7% rate, Zhang Dandan estimated it’s closer to 46.5%. In her calculations, she included 16 million non-students not actively seeking work.

While China’s official youth unemployment rate indicates around one-fifth of 16- to 24-year olds are jobless, a Peking University professor estimated that this could be close to 50%.

According to Zhang Dandan, whose findings were recently published in the financial magazine Caixin, March’s youth unemployment rate could have been as much as 46.5% when accounting for 16 million non-students not actively seeking work, Reuters reported.

This is more than double that month’s official 19.7% rate, as published by the National Bureau of Statistics. Since then, it has climbed to 21.3%, which could mean the alternate jobless rate is higher too.

To be sure, the US Labor Department’s unemployment rate doesn’t include Americans who have stopped looking for work. But it still publishes alternate measures of joblessness, and the rate that includes “discouraged” workers was 3.7% in June, little changed from the headline rate of 3.6%.

While China’s economy is still expanding, its post-COVID recovery has disappointed and weakness in key sectors has hit young people especially hard, giving rise to the “lying flat” trend of millions of college graduates still living off their parents with defeatist attitudes about their futures.

According to Zhang’s article, which has since been removed, stagnation in some of the country’s manufacturing hubs has been a huge pressure point on the youth labor market.

“Employment there only recovered to two-thirds of pre-COVID levels till March, when COVID faded,” she wrote, according to Reuters. “Young people remain major workers in the manufacturing sector, so they were hit more badly.”

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