China’s National Bureau of Statistics has released new data from March showing another month-on-month rise in the youth unemployment rate.
Although overall unemployment is down 0.3 points at 5.3%, youth unemployment continues to rise. Data from March showed 19.6% of China’s 16-24 year-olds are currently jobless, up from 18.1% in February and the highest figure since the record high of 19.9% in July 2022.
The National Bureau of Statistics’ spokesperson Fu Linghui said that the time of year could account for the increase in youth unemployment. China’s job market often sees an influx of college students around March and April as they look to line up jobs ahead of graduation season in June and July. The offiicial report listed a higher than ever number of college graduates as the second cause of the climbing youth unemployment.
Decreasing youth unemployment is a top priority of the government, after widespread disillusionment and economic anxiety among China’s young people fomented nationwide protests in November 2022. The government has announced several policies to curb the issue, including extended loans for key tech companies and subsidies for those still unemployed two years post-graduation. Hotels across Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces have even started offering free accommodation for college students committed to finding a job in the region.
The report emphasized the overall positive trend in the stabilisation of the national economy, which reflects a rise in consumer confidence post-pandemic as well a host of private sector-friendly policies introduced over the past year. Whether youth unemployment will also decline in parallel with these trends will be an important indicator of the extent and speed of this economic stabilisation.