China’s real youth unemployment rate may be around 50%, twice the official rate.

China's real youth unemployment rate may be around 50%, twice the official rate.

The Harsh Reality of China’s Youth Unemployment: Is the Government Downplaying the Crisis?

China’s Youth Unemployment

In a shocking revelation, a Peking University professor has cast doubt on China’s official youth unemployment rate, suggesting that the actual figures might be alarming. While the government’s statistics reported a 19.7% youth unemployment rate for March, Zhang Dandan estimated that it could be as high as 46.5%. These staggering numbers, if true, paint a grim picture of the employment situation for young people in China.

Zhang’s calculations take into account the exclusion of non-student individuals who are not actively seeking work, amounting to a staggering 16 million people. According to her findings, which were published in the esteemed financial magazine Caixin, the alternate youth unemployment rate for March could have reached a staggering 46.5%.

It is important to note that China’s official statistics have already raised concerns about the rising youth unemployment rate, but this new revelation suggests an even bleaker reality. The National Bureau of Statistics reported an official rate of 19.7% for March, a figure that has since climbed to 21.3%. If the alternate rate proposed by Zhang is accurate, the true extent of youth unemployment in China is even more dire.

Drawing a comparison to the United States Labor Department’s unemployment rate, one must acknowledge that it does not include individuals who have given up the search for work. However, the US still publishes alternate measures of joblessness. In June, the rate that incorporates “discouraged” workers was 3.7%, only slightly higher than the headline rate of 3.6%. This stark contrast in reporting methodologies highlights the need for more comprehensive and accurate data, especially in the case of China’s youth unemployment crisis.

The troubling reality of China’s youth unemployment crisis is compounded by the disappointing post-COVID recovery and the weakness in key sectors. Young people have been disproportionately affected, leading to the emergence of the “lying flat” trend, wherein millions of college graduates are resigned to living off their parents with little hope for the future. This defeatist attitude is a direct consequence of the harsh employment situation faced by young job seekers.

According to Zhang’s article, which has since been removed, the stagnation in some of China’s manufacturing hubs has been a major pressure point on the youth labor market. She notes that employment in these areas had only recovered to two-thirds of pre-COVID levels as of March 2022. Considering that young people are significant contributors to the manufacturing sector, they have borne the brunt of the economic downturn.

These revelations raise questions about the Chinese government’s response to the youth unemployment crisis. The disparity between official reports and the alternate rate proposed by Zhang signals a potential downplaying of the severity of the issue. It is imperative for the government to address this crisis honestly and urgently, devising effective policies and measures to alleviate the burden on young job seekers.

In conclusion, the situation of youth unemployment in China might be far worse than official statistics suggest. Zhang Dandan’s estimations indicate a potential rate of 46.5%, more than double the official figures. The post-COVID economic recovery has left the younger generation disillusioned and struggling, with manufacturing sector stagnation exacerbating the crisis. It is crucial for the Chinese government to acknowledge the severity of the problem and take decisive action to provide employment opportunities and hope for a brighter future for its young workforce.